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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Minions is the highly anticipated prequel to the Despicable Me franchise, focusing on Gru's beloved yellow sidekicks. Although no children are in peril in this installment of the franchise, the appeal of villains/bad guys is a central theme, and there are several scenes of cartoon violence that are played lightly/for laughs (explosions, freeze guns, torture devices). The actual "body count" is low and mostly involves the Minions' non-human/bad guy (a T-rex, a yeti, etc.) bosses. The Minions speak a made-up language, but there are a couple uses of insults like "idiot" or "screwed up." And there are some glimpses of basically bare Minion bottom, as well as some other mildly suggestive scenes (implied nakedness after losing a swimsuit, bottom squeezing, a couple embracing, hypnotized guards stripping down to their boxers and dancing/slapping each other on the rear, etc.). One male character dresses as a woman, and at one point the Minions pile on top of each other to disguise themselves as a woman (earning a chest ogle in the process). Like the other Despicable Me movies, the story can be seen as a celebration of villainy (though much of it is intended to be silly/funny) -- but the long-term take away is hopefully more about how loyal the Minions are to one another and to their masters.
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What's the story?
MINIONS is a prequel to the wildly popular Despicable Me movies, chronicling how the little yellow creatures have always been drawn to follow the biggest villains surrounding them, from a T-rex to a caveman to a tyrant. For a long time, the Minions -- distraught that their masters keep dying --stay hidden in an ice cave, with no one to follow and nothing to do. Then, bored and depressed, Kevin leads Bob and Stuart on a mission to find a new supervillain ruler and ends up in 1968 New York City. From there, the trio discovers that renowned international villain Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock) is the one they want. They win her trust and accompany her to England, where they must prove their loyalty by stealing the queen's crown jewels with the help of Scarlett's weapons-specialist husband, Herb (Jon Hamm).
Is it any good?
This prequel is not as substantive as the original story. But Kevin, Stuart, and Bob -- whom Despicable Me fans will remember fondly from the previous films -- are definitely cute and clever, so kids will no doubt want to flock to see it. The Minions are an adorable bunch of sidekicks, so it's difficult not to root for them, even though they're destined to be acolytes to evil masters. With their vaguely familiar-sounding language and their penchant for causing mayhem, the Minions will continue to win viewers' hearts with their googly eyed shenanigans.
As for the new characters, Scarlett and Herb are a hilarious couple, and it's obvious that Bullock and Hamm had a good time channeling their inner wacky villains. And the soundtrack is full of greatest hits like "My Generation," "Happy Together," "You Really Got Me," and "Mellow Yellow" (of course). Still, despite the comedic gags and the familiar soundtrack, there's not a lot of depth to this story, and Scarlett isn't nearly as compelling as Gru. Go for the love of Minions, but don't expect this installment to dethrone the original as the best of the Despicable Me bunch.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Minions centers on "sidekicks" rather than the typical heroes. How do the Minions emerge as heroes of their own story rather than just as supporting characters in others' tales?
How does the cartoon action in this movie compare to others you've seen? Does this kind of violence have more or less impact than what's in live-action movies? Why?
Many central characters in the Despicable Me movies are villains -- and yet they're still the ones we root for. Is it OK to have a sympathetic "bad guy"? How does that impact the characters' status as role models?
What makes the Minions such popular characters? Why do you think they're so beloved? Does the fact that their language is unintelligible make them more or less appealing?
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