Thursday, January 7, 2016
I've made exactly two boycotts that I can think of in the seven years of this blog's existence. One was explicit, in an actual post called "Boycott," which greeted the arrival of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. The other one was kind of understood, the result of me attacking the minions at regular intervals and swearing never to intentionally expose my children to one of their movies. One of those posts -- this one -- has become kind of my breakout post, visited and commented on by far more people than I could have ever imagined, and taking on sort of a life of its own. (That's 23 comments and 15692 page views.) I would almost call it my 15 minutes of blogger fame.
As of this week, one of those two boycotts has been lifted.
That's right, not only have I seen Minions, but so has my son.
The change came about as a result of two unrelated circumstances. One was that when we were on vacation in Tasmania last month, my wife saw a hand-knitted minion winter cap at a market in a small town. It being only $5 -- an exceptional price for a hand-made garment, even if it it's a minion garment -- she decided to buy it. This was weird for two reasons: 1) It won't be winter hat season here until about June, and 2) My son already has a minion winter hat that we bought for him in the U.S., as discussed in this post. It's not as nice as this one, but it makes this a duplicate in two ways -- not only is it another winter hat, it's another minion winter hat.
The second circumstance was that I learned a few days ago that I'd be watching my son on Tuesday. I usually watch my younger son, the one who just turned two, on Tuesdays, but usually the five-year-old goes to school that day. This being summer, though, the schedule is all out of whack, and I had both of them on Tuesday. That made it slightly more necessary for me to find something to do during the younger one's nap, especially since I'd also have both of them on Wednesday. And it being the time of year when I'm cramming 2015 movies, and Minions being a 2015 movie, and it containing almost no potential for scaring him ...
There was a third, less important reason, which is that I've been subtly made to feel like a bit of a Grinch for denying my son access to the minions. My wife doesn't like them (much) either, but whenever I'd make a comment along the lines of "He's not watching that movie with me," she'd give me a look of humorous sadness -- like she got it, but she still thought it was a bit of an ogre move to deny him something he would so obviously love.
So this week, I wondered: Is it time to let the minions into my heart?
So I rented the movie on Monday and we popped it in to the BluRay player on Tuesday, about 20 minutes after the younger one went down for his nap.
Conclusion: I still don't like the minions.
I was actually with this movie for a while. I enjoyed the origins scenes, the ones that show these apparently immortal creatures moving from master to master, all the way back to the age of the dinosaurs. It was implausible to say the least, but carried off with enough panache to be watchable. And yes, I found myself laughing from time to time. I was even into it up until the movie's present day, which is 1968, when they connect up with the awesomely named villain Scarlett Overkill, voiced by Sandra Bullock. (My love of Bullock also probably helped knock down some walls between me and Minions.) I dug her act and that of her husband, Herb (Jon Hamm). I thought it was clever enough that the minions meet her at an event called VillainCon. It's all working well enough at this point.
Then the minion called Bob becomes the king of England, and, well, back to the status quo.
From this point on, the movie just annoyed me. Everything I had found moderately tolerable about the minions in the first half of the movie turned to moderately intolerable. And that's where my star rating ended up for the movie: 2.5 stars.
I guess that's a victory of sorts for the little yellow blobs, as I would have predicted something in the one- to 1.5-star range for a movie devoted entirely to them. I liked it better than The Good Dinosaur, anyway.
One thing that was especially strange, and also heartening, was that my son didn't really like it. I wish it were for a better reason, though. "It's banal, father," he didn't say. "These yellow sprites and their cartoonish antics are just not for me," he also didn't say. What he did say was, "It was too scary." In fact, at the hour mark he almost made me turn it off. Why? Because the minions were dangling from a chandelier that was about to fall. I didn't realize a fear of heights could be vicariously transferred to what's happening to characters in a movie -- I thought you're only supposed to be afraid of monsters and stuff, the kind of thing that can invade your dreams later on. But my wife later confirmed that she, who also has a fear of heights, has felt vicarious fear for characters in movies who were dangling from great heights. (A fact we may test if we watch The Walk this weekend.)
So is the boycott back on? It's too early for me to say. The fact that Minions made more than a billion dollars at the global box office means that anywhere from three to 14 more Minions movies will be made, even though the first one unintentionally boxed itself in by bringing us up to the moment when they take up with Gru, their master in Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 (the second of which I still haven't seen). As is always the case, any part of the narrative continuity of these creatures can be dismantled or rebooted if it means more money in the studio's coffers.
So no, I'm not really inclined to see Minions 2, which surprisingly has not been given a release date yet, as far as IMDB knows anything about it.
Then again, if it's January of 2018 and I find myself stuck at home on a summer day with my sons, both of whom will be old enough to watch it at that point ... you never know.
Assuming, that is, there are no chandeliers in it.