Despicably Good: Why We Love the Minions

Despicably Good: Why We Love the Minions

The minions jumped onto our screens back in 2010 in the original Despicable Me movie. These adorable yellow creatures with their blue overalls and desperate need to serve their master crept into our hearts and continue to dig their way further in with each movie released. With Despicable Me 4 coming this month, we explore what we love about the Minions and Despicable Me.


The original Despicable Me film followed Felonious Gru, voiced by Steve Carell, a supervillain out to prove himself after a new rival outdoes his villainous feats. To pull off his outrageous plan of stealing the moon, he adopts three little girls from an orphanage to get access to his rival’s lair.


Gru was planned as a James Bond-style villain who finds redemption in the family he has created by adopting the girls. His home is a gothic manor towering over the other houses in his suburban neighbourhood and filled with weapons and other especially non-child-friendly décor. His carbon footprint also leaves a lot to be desired!


The film includes some rather dark humour, making it different to animated films from the Disney Animation Studios, which generally shy away from the darker laughs.  This dark humour is on show in the first film when Edith (the middle child) wanders into a spiked torture device and the door closes behind her. A red liquid is then seen leaking out the bottom. The girls are upset, but Gru simply says “Well I suppose the plan will work with two.” It turns out that Edith’s juice box was pierced by the spikes, and she is fine.


Another reason this series stands out from other comedies is the funny moments that are created through the absurdity of the action. From the outlandish plans of the various villains – Vector steals a pyramid and replaces it with an inflatable version – to the dance fight in Despicable Me 3, there are funny moments created by sheer ridiculousness throughout the films.


Eagle-eyed viewers can also find side references to other films, such as seeing how Nemo got his lucky fin in a brief moment in the third film, and Dr Nefarious accidentally freezing himself in carbonite in a reference to Han Solo from Star Wars. There are also jokes about real-world institutions, such as The Bank of Evil formerly being Lehman Brothers – a US bank that filed for bankruptcy in 2008.


The puns also add another dimension to the humour. The villains often have bad puns in their names, such as Jean Clawed (a lobster-clawed villain voiced by Jean-Claude van Damme), Nun-chuck (a nunchuk-wielding nun), Svengeance, and Scarlett Overkill. And of course, with the first name Felonious, it makes sense that Gru was going to be a villain!


Agnes, the youngest of the three girls, is another reason to love this franchise.  Like many little girls, she is obsessed with unicorns, adopting a one-horned goat, whom she continues to love even after she discovers it isn’t a real unicorn. She wants to live in a house made of gummy bears and is the first of the girls to trust Gru. It is Agnes’ curiosity that uncovers the secret entrance to Gru’s hidden lab in his home. Her crazy antics, like holding her breath when she doesn’t get her way and exclamations like “It’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die!” have endeared her to us. 


However, it is the minions who steal the show. For the most part, they function as a group, but a few individuals stand out. They vary in size and shape and have minor differences, such as whether they have one or two eyes and their hairstyles. Kids seem particularly adept at telling them apart.


The minions have their own language, which seems like gibberish to us, however, there are a few recognisable English words in there. These are dubbed into local languages for their international releases, showing that this partial understanding is an intentional part of the film. Phrases in other languages, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Indonesian and Japanese are also recognisable in the English version.


Despite being Gru’s main workforce for his evil plans, they seem incredibly child-like. They have a wide-eyed innocence, but with little self-control, especially when it comes to food, having fun and retaliating against one another. They have a very childish humour, like giggling when the water cooler creates air bubbles or upon hearing the name Ramsbottom, photocopying their bare buttocks, and anything to do with bottoms in general.


Their slapstick humour is definitely not to be copied at home!  From electrocuting each other with jumper cables to hitting each other over the head with hammers, the minions, while well-intentioned, are not to be used as role models.  Their misbehaving often leads to disaster, such as accidentally firing rockets at each other.  


We learnt in The Minions movie that their reason for existing is to serve the most despicable master they can find. They discover that finding a master is easy, but keeping a master proves to be quite difficult, as they are the reason for the death of many of their masters, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a caveman and a vampire.


Despicable Me Evil Foam Minion Child Costume | Costume Super Centre AUWhen the minions were turned evil after being exposed to a mutagen in Despicable Me 2 it really raised the stakes. Not only were they numerous and dangerous, we wanted them saved, not destroyed. Their mutant purple colour and crazed look didn’t diminish their appeal, despite their new bloodthirsty nature.


The trailer for Despicable Me 4 shows the minions up to their old tricks, with scenes of a pool noodle beating, making popcorn and getting stuck in a vending machine as proof that they haven’t learnt better behaviour.


It’s clear to see why this is now the highest-grossing franchise in history. With 18 short films to date, along with several video games and the Minion Mayhem ride at Universal Studio parks, it seems the world can’t get enough of the minions!


We love the heart-warming tale of Gru, the villain turned family man, and watching him as his family grows. But it’s the minions we keep coming back for. These nonsensical little creatures have us rolling in the aisles, crying with laughter and mispronouncing fruit (Bapple? Bapple!). We can’t wait to see what Despicable Me 4 has in store for us.

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