It was inevitable that the most marketable and merchandisable characters in recent memory would gain their own spinoff prequel. Can a gaggle of Tic Tac-shaped, overall-wearing minions make a hilariously quirky movie? Definitely.
The film opens with an extended version of the trailer that has racked up 20 million-plus views. Unlike other comedies, which place all of the jokes in their trailers, Minions is free to shed the anticipated scenes in the first five minutes, and get on with the film. Which, by the way, is what you'd expect: an hour and a half of Minionese (a language that mashes up English, French, Italian, Spanish and Hindi).
With the minions left floundering and leaderless, Kevin, Bob and Stuart bravely head out into the world in search of an evil overlord to serve. Obviously, hilarity ensues.
In a loosely organized plot with awkward pacing (any deficit is filled with minion-esque comedy), the world's most successful and daring villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) and her inventor husband (Jon Hamm) have the trio of minions steal Queen Elizabeth's crown and usurp the monarchy. Again, hilarity ensues. Geoffrey Rush joins the cast as the narrator, and the audience is treated to a pre-evil overlord young Gru (Steve Carrell). Steve Coogan and Michael Keaton have non-minion speaking parts.
The film is filled with nods to an older audience, such as when the Minions walk by a Richard Nixon poster ("Finally, a man you can trust!"). It's also loaded with blink-and-you-miss-it moments, like the Abbey Road allusion.
The film's musical score samples Aerosmith, Donovan, Smashing Pumpkins and the Doors, including an excellent a cappella rendition of the Universal Studios credits by the Minions to get things started (in an apparent reference to Pitch Perfect).
It's all fairly predictable, but in the same way that all spinoffs are. The writers know people want to see minions do minion things. And they do. And it's hilarious.