REVIEW: Mower Minions [2016]

Score: 3/10 | ★

Rating: G | Runtime: ?? minutes | Release Date: July 8th, 2016 (USA)
Studio: Illumination Entertainment / Universal Pictures

“Chop-ah chop-ah”

The Minions used to be adorable little sidekicks—hilarious creatures ripe for slapstick in a secondary role to the film they were in (Despicable Me). And then they became bigger than the franchise that spawned them. Toys were made, companies recruited them to sell products, and their own feature length film was inevitably released in theaters. That’s all well and good because I am the first to say I enjoy those goobers as much as the next person. But why is Illumination transforming them into dead horses? Are they trying to kill them off once and for all to open the door for something new? No, they aren’t. These guys epitomize their brand. Just watch the opening title card flash “illuMINatION” before the lights go on.

If they think they can keep going as they are, however, it won’t matter if they’re trying to murder them or not. They’ll soon be dead in the collective consciousness anyway. So stop wasting time and energy creating short films of them bouncing about like in Mower Minions. It’s not fun. I chuckled a couple times, but the joke has gone beyond stale into brittle and ready to crack. Less is more: a cute “bee-do” fire alarm hits like gangbusters in the middle of Despicable Me 2 while watching them pick up poo and scream “poo poo, ca-ca” doesn’t. This thing skews to three-year olds and alienates everyone older, subtly planting a seed of frustration and annoyance for the next time they grace our myriad screens.

The story follows their desire for an infomercial’s banana blender seen while lounging around the house. Desperate to earn enough money for one, they hijack landscape equipment and walk over to an old folks home to cut their lawn for twenty bucks. Hijinks ensue, gibberish is screamed, and a gnome sweats (the best part by far). The animated senior citizens laugh as we watch with a yawn. It’s a tired shtick that has lost it’s appeal enough to force a huge fan of the gimmick such as myself into finally understanding what so many people around me have for quite some time. But this is the curse of Pixar’s competitors. Whether Dreamworks’ penguins, Blue Sky’s Scrat, or Illumination’s Minions—gags only go so far.

It’s no coincidence that the Toy Story trolls never received their own vehicle to cash-in on irreverence. Pixar understands their power and knows when enough is enough. Hopefully the other studios will soon catch on.

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