Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Minions Is Funny But Flimsy

Plus, Self/less and The Gallows misfire, and Spoils Before Dying is a funny noir parody.

by | July 9, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an army of little flunkies (Minions, featuring voice performances by Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm), a man with a new identity (Self/less, starring Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley), and cursed teen thespians (The Gallows, starring Cassidy Gifford and Reese Mishler). What do the critics have to say?



The two Despicable Me films were ostensibly about evil mastermind Gru, but it was those ovular yellow troublemakers the Minions who were the franchise’s breakout stars. Now they’ve got their own movie — aptly titled Minions — and critics say it’s colorful and funny, though its wacky slapstick gags only partially compensate for the lack of a strong narrative. The movie tells the millennia-spanning story of the Minions and their supervillain servitude; special attention is paid to Minions Stuart, Kevin, and Bob, who team up with the nefarious Scarlett and Herb Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm) for a daring jewel heist. The pundits say Minions is cute and visually inventive, though the titular heroes may be put to better use as supporting players. (Check out our video interviews with the cast, and flip through our gallery of the best and worst TV and movie henchmen.)



Director Tarsem Singh is undoubtedly a strong visual stylist, and his latest, Self/less, has an undeniably intriguing premise. So it’s unfortunate, critics say, when the film shifts abruptly from cerebral sci-fi to generic shoot-’em-up. Loosely based on John Frankenheimer’s eerie 1966 classic Seconds, the film follows ailing real estate billionaire Damian Hale (Ben Kingsley) as he undergoes a risky medical procedure to inhabit a new, younger body. Soon, however, this rejuvenated Damian (now played by Ryan Reynolds) learns there may have been more to the procedure than he was led to believe. The pundits say the performances are fine, but Self/less never achieves the intellectual ambitions to which it aspires. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Kingsley’s best-reviewed movies, and find out our Singh’s Five Favorite Films.)

The Gallows


The best found footage horror films (The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity) succeed in creating an air of immediacy. Unfortunately, critics say the big problem with The Gallows is that its handheld camera gimmick does little to intensify its bump-in-the-night jolts. Twenty years after the onstage death of the lead actor in a high school play, students from the school decide to revive the production to pay tribute to the dead; spookiness ensues. The pundits say The Gallows has a couple decent scares, but not enough to sell this relatively generic frightfest.

What’s On TV:

Maybe Tomorrow” (77 percent) serves as a dark, stylish diversion from earlier episodes of True Detective, even if it offers a somewhat less-than-satisfying conclusion to a previous cliffhanger.

The Spoils Before Dying (82 percent) serves up a jazz noir spoof that could be considered better than its predecessor — for those that appreciate its specific brand of comedy.

Extant (70 percent) amps up the action in Season Two, adding much-needed stamina to shore up Halle Berry’s compelling performance.

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Stations of the Cross, a drama about a German teenager struggling with her faith and the demands of her strict family, is at 95 percent.
  • Tangerine, a dramedy about a wild day in the lives of two transgendered sex workers, is at 92 percent.
  • Do I Sound Gay?, a documentary that explores the nature of the stereotypical “gay voice,” is at 92 percent.
  • The Suicide Theory, a thriller about a despondent man who pays a hitman to kill him, is at 86 percent.
  • 10,000 Km, a drama about a couple trying to hold their relationship together despite the vast distance that separates them, is at 79 percent.
  • What We Did On Our Holiday, starring Rosamund Pike and David Tennant in a comedy about a family that vacations in Scotland amidst marital strife, is at 74 percent.
  • Boulevard, starring Robin Williams and Kathy Baker in a drama about a married man coming to terms with his homosexuality, is at 48 percent.
  • Strangerland, starring Nicole Kidman and Joseph Fiennes in a period drama about a couple searching desperately for their missing children in the aftermath of a huge dust storm, is at 35 percent.

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