There’s a reason why it’s a moral principle to oppose Minions as a cinematic idea, as a model for other possible successful animated films, or even just as a cornerstone of our year’s animated cinema (because the collection says so). And the moral principle sinks its hands into the fact that Minions, a perfect marketing product, is the least of the cinematic language, the most unassailable demonstration that a film’s success is not necessarily linked to the fact that it can also be memorable, groundbreaking , interesting and relevant. The Minions, born in the film series Despicable Me and then blossomed into two origin-telling spin-offs (the second will be released on August 18), they are the representation of all the most vulgar strategies of the lazy filmmakers, put together with skill to gain the public’s favor without really make cinema.
In the sequel to the prequel that doubles as a spin-off (I swear it is), Minions we see them in the 70s. In the previous one, we were told briefly about their historical origins, and then we had seen them perform in London in the 60s. It had been terrible, but at least there was a hint of mythology, an origin was cast, and the movie had a meaning in itself. Maybe it didn’t seem that way at the time, but today, considering the second, we have to admit that the first was paradoxically more structured. Because this time, in the 70s, the goal would be to tell the moment when the yellow servants meet their master, a kid who dreams big of becoming a villain in San Francisco, in reality the case is almost immediately abandoned.
This is the plot, there is not much more than a series of tacked-on situations where Gru wants to be noticed by a gang of villains and the Minions clumsily try to help him. It cannot be properly defined as a plot because there is no narrative arc, ie. the characters don’t go from one state to another, they don’t develop a consciousness, they don’t face a psychological impasse to overcome, nor do they. really see. test your beliefs or whatever else you want to use to define a story arc. Minions 2, it’s just not that kind of movie. It is the kind of film where you get the impression that the creative process was to give birth to individual gags and then try to create pretexts that bind them as well. For this reason, more than being a cinema for children, it is children’s cinema, immature and devoid of the seriousness that even the funniest products have.
If the gags in question worked then it would all be understandable or at least digestible, instead Minions as usual focuses on grimaces and faces, on ballets and faces, on imitating children’s movements and not on real interactions. Despite the thousands of deviations that the film takes, none of the characters shown have any kind of charisma or just an attractive capacity, they are there because at a certain point the moment of his big mouth will come. It might be the same modus operandi as classic TV cartoons, from Tom and Jerry down, but the Minion movies never have a game of conflicting personalities, they can’t do slapstick humor, and they’re never able to position the viewer . , get him aside or even just enjoy for certain outcomes, certainly do not create a tension (not even comical) and are far from creating surprise (here their creator will probably also agree).
Their main weapon is the use of wigs and clothing to softly transform them into something else. With the adidas suit to practice martial arts, with an afro wig and a radio to mimic the look of the era. At this point it’s easy to argue that it’s a children’s product after all and that there’s not too much to expect, but it’s the easier and less expert way out of children’s products than instead, in all eras and for all mediums can be intelligent, sophisticated or even just good at what they do (think again Tom and Jerry or Pixar and Disney shorts). And if it is true that everything cannot or must necessarily be particularly sophisticated, that there is also room for something low and quick, superficial and simply stupid to feed children with, there is no reason for even the adults to settle in it. , which instead happens with the rest of contemporary animation, and which the film itself implicates and questions with its many quotes (slap in the face) from works, films, songs and current events that only adults can understand.
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