In 1937, Walt Disney pioneered a path for animation to join the ever-growing collection of feature films to showcase in cinemas across the world. Since then there have been critical and commercial successes as well as those that have fallen flat and failed to meet expectations. Animation studios have come and gone, but if we limit our frame of reference to just the last 15 years we've seen some great films come from the titan studios like:
DreamWorks Animation (Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon)
Disney Animation (The Emperor's New Groove, Lilo & Stitch, Tangled, Frozen, Big Hero 6)
- Pixar Animation (Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Up)
As you can see, the standards that we're all used to when it comes to modern animated feature films is set fairly high. So, five years ago when Illumination Entertainment announced that they would be releasing animated features, I approached it with hesitation, but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt even though I wasn't completely sold on whether or not they could stand next to the behemoth studios of DreamWorks, Disney, or Pixar. Yet there I sat in the theater, waiting to watch their first animated film: Despicable Me.
I was hooked only moments into the movie, as was much of the world as it grossed over $543 million worldwide and launched a franchise, bringing the studio into the ranks of the big three. Illumination Studios followed up its success with two more films before releasing Despicable Me 2 in 2013 which broke records, earning $964 million worldwide. The success of the Despicable franchise has continued with the newest release of the spinoff/prequel film: Minions.
Minions is the first animated film to dig into its characters' origin as the primary vehicle for the movie's progression, and it was done exquisitely. Sadly, I never managed to make it out to the theater to see Minions on the big screen but, thanks to my wonderful friend at Moviepilot, I was offered a chance to add it to my Ultraviolet collection. I was ecstatic, as was my family, as I loaded it into my VUDU account and started it on our TV last night.
In the first 20 minutes I heard more deep belly laughs from my son Brycen and my wife, than I've heard in a long time. Some of the laughs were so loud and long that they scared my 8-week-old son. Once we calmed him down we continued into this wonderful story and we found countless more times to laugh so hard it hurt.
As you can imagine, Minions focuses on the minions that we've grown to love over the years. We are introduced to them through the narrator (Geoffrey Rush) explaining where they came from and what their ultimate purpose in life is: to serve the most villainous master. We watch as the minions move from one master to the next: from a T-Rex to a caveman, to an Egyptian pharaoh to Dracula, and even Napoleon before deciding to isolate themselves as they have nearly killed them all due to their lovable incompetence. The minions start a new life deep in a cave in Antarctica before one minion chooses to find his friends a new master.
As we watched the movie as a family, it struck me that the minions – as different anatomically as they are – are incredibly similar to us in three unique ways, each displayed by one of the three main characters.
Kevin is the leader of the trio, and is the minion who forms the plan to leave their home in search of a new master. Kevin has a good sense of humor, but finds the greatest pleasure in teasing people and his fellow minions. He cares about the overall wealth of the tribe of minions.
We all have times in our lives when we are given the choice to step up and pursue what we feel strongly about, which is what Kevin does. We are often called to be leaders: at work, at home, or even in an unknown situation. It's these moments where we channel that desire to continue on and to always seek out the best possible outcome.
Start is the more playful and carefree minion of the trio. Often seen as a slacker, Stuart prefers to chill out and serenade with his ukulele instead of listen to and follow the rules. His tendency to be slightly rebellious also shows in his actions, even though he seems to be sincere and innocent compared to his minion brothers.
Stuart is probably the easiest minion to relate to as he simply follows whatever direction he feel compelled to go in; whether that direction is purposeful or not is a moot point. Sometimes we all just want to be able to be carefree and just let life happen around us without having to make decisions that could ultimately change our present or our future.
Bob is the most childlike minion of the trio. He can easily find love in anything and everything, from his Teddy Bear, Tim, to a rat in a sewer. Often he is seen as a "little brother," as he rarely takes action without being guided by another minion. Bob is equally as playful as Stuart but in a much more over-enthusiastic way.
Bob is in essence our 'child at heart.' More often than not we want to capture that attitude and find joy and happiness in everything around us, no matter how innocuous it may seem. We want to be enthusiastic about our situation in a way that only a child can.