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Minions

Year: 2015
Production Co: Illumination Entertainment
Studio: Universal
Director: Kyle Balda/Pierre Coffin
Writer: Brian Lynch
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin

In the grand tradition of secondary characters who get their own movie (This Is 40, Maleficent, the forthcoming Star Wars spinoff about Han Solo), the chattering, jumping bean shaped comic sidekicks from the Despicable Me movies get their own story explaining where they came from and how they got to be in the place we know them from.

Like Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, it's one of the better examples of family films for moviegoers who can't stand them – maybe simply because it's truly funny, maybe because of the oddball tone riffing on the same Swinging London setting as the Austin Powers movies is so distinctive and well-drawn.

After the hilarious first five minutes explains how the minions have been around looking for an evil master to serve since the time of the dinosaurs, the minion race is living in a cave in a snowy wasteland, depressed and dispirited with no master. Three of their most intrepid – Bob, Stuart and Kevin (voiced by one of the directors, along with every other minion voice) go off in search of an evil overlord and promise not to return without one.

A series of comic hijinks sees them attend Florida Villain Con, a hardly-veiled send-up of Comic Con where the bad guys of the world get together to show off their super weapons, attend symposia and network. When Kevin, Bob and Stuart see everybody's hero Scarlett Overkill (Sandra Bullock) present, they're smitten, determined to offer their services to her.

She talks them into stealing the crown jewels so she can be the Queen of England (the real Queen herself has a few scenes), and the chase is on. The plot hardly matters, it's about the gags and the visual references adults will get that will go over kids' heads – from The Beatles crossing Abbey Road to the constant tea-drinking.

You'll laugh all the way through, and when so many 'acclaimed' kids films serve up little but the same cloying morality tales, it's nice to see something colourful, well written and commercial that's more interested in making you laugh.

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