All you need to know about The Minions

26 Jun 2015 BY Joe Ursell in Film Features

6 mins

Our pick of this week's new cinema releases is Minions, which sees the little yellow rascals from the Despicable Me franchise starring in their own film! Find out all you need to know about the riotous spin-off below.

Minions is not a sequel, and it's not quite a prequel...

Minions is more of a spin-off than anything else. Spin-offs don't necessarily have any direct relationship to the stories of earlier films, but will usually feature some, if not all, of the same characters. Other examples of spin-off films you might know are Puss In Boots (from Shrek), Penguins of Madagascar (the Madagascar films) and Shaun the Sheep (Shaun's first appearances were in the Wallace and Gromit films).

...but it is an origin story!

Origin stories tell the story of how certain characters became the people they are, and are particularly popular in comic-book films. These stories are often linked to special powers the characters possess, but sometimes they're about how characters came to be wickedly evil!

Origin stories usually set the scene for future films, so as well as comic-book examples like Spider-Man, the first Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films are also origin stories.

Minions is set in the year 42... B.G?

The film is mostly set in 1968, or the year 42 B.G. (Before Gru). We find out that Minions have been around for millions of years, always with the same purpose: to seek out and serve the most despicable master they can find! Some of their previous evil masters included prehistoric cavemen, Dracula and even a Tyrannosaurus-Rex. Eventually, the clumsy Minions end up accidentally killing so many evil villains that there aren't any left and they have to go into hiding.

The Minions never speak a word of English.

The Minions speak their own language, called Minionese, the latest in a long line of characters with a made up language. Other examples are Wall-E, the aliens in Toy Story, and Tick Tock the crocodile in Peter Pan. How do you think filmmakers help an audience get to know these characters, without them saying anything?

Minions is actually an old-school comedy.

In comedies like Minions, because characters don't speak, much of the humour comes from their over-the-top physical behaviour, which is known as slapstick. Slapstick was one of the most popular forms of early cinema, before sound films had been invented. We still think many of these older films including classics like The General are brilliant. Perhaps the most famous English example is Mr. Bean, who was very heavily influenced by a genius French comedian called Jacques Tati and his film Monsieur Hulot's Holiday. We'd recommend watching all of these films; they're hilarious and can be enjoyed by anybody!

Minions introduces a brand new super-villain.

During the film the Minions encounter a new villain - named Scarlett Overkill - who they think is the world's first female super-villain! In fact, there have been plenty of female villains throughout cinema history, such as Maleficent, Cruella de Vil in 101 Dalmatians, The Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, and The Evil Queen from Snow White. One of Scarlett's evil plans is to steal the crown jewels from the Queen of England, and lots of the film is set in London. Keep an eye out for which famous landmarks you spot in the film and see if you can think of any that might be missing, and why.

The Minions music spans decades.

Whereas Despicable Me 2 used lots of modern music, like Happy by Pharrell Williams, this film features pop songs from the 1960s. This is so that the filmmakers can capture some of what it might have been like to be in London during that time. Younger audiences may not recognise all of the songs, but we're sure parents and teachers will know a fair few.

Millions of Minions...

The Despicable Me films are so popular with audiences that lots of people have been inspired to make their own Minions movies and post them online, or share them with friends. Why do you think the Minions are so popular with audiences, and what would the story be if you were to make your own Minions film?

If you miss Gru and some of the other characters from the earlier films don't worry, the whole gang will be back for Despicable Me 3 in 2017!

Portrait picture of Joe Ursell

Joe Ursell, Film Curator

Joe has a BA in Film & American Studies from the University of East Anglia and an MA in Contemporary Cinema Cultures from King's College London. He has worked with the BFI London Film Festival and on the production of ITV documentary 56 Up.

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