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How Despicable Me’s lovable minions took over the world

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In 2010 a fever took the nation – no, the world – making people laugh uncontrollably and shout “banana” after being exposed to yellow anamorphic blobs. What was the source of such a pandemic? 

Rather surprisingly, it all started with an animated film. Despicable Me unleashed the so-called minions on the world and ever since – seven years and counting now – we’ve been unable to restrain the fits of laughter that they induce. But what is it about these minions that is so darn funny?

With Despicable Me 3 out next week, here's why.

Their humour is as childish as our own

It’s not uncommon for children’s films to crack a few fart jokes, but they’re usually more likely to make you cringe than laugh. In the Despicable Me films, it’s not the fart jokes that make us laugh, but the reactions of the minions. Often you’ll see them nudge their friend and burst into laughter with one another – and that laughter is so contagious that we also laugh along. But why? It’s most probably because it reminds us of our own best friends.

Ever heard a dirty-sounding name and looked knowingly at your buddy? Of course you have. It may be childish, but we can’t all be professional adults 24/7. The Minions tap into this relationship that you have with your closest friends so you can remember that time Mr Bumwinkle taught you Maths in secondary school.

Their nonsense language is hysterical

Mr Bean. Groot. Snoopy. What do these characters have in common? They’re all mute (other than a few words) and yet still dish out the laughs on a frequent basis. While the minions have a wider vocabulary than this speechless trio, most of what they say is still unintelligible to the average human. But why is not being able to form coherent sentences amusing?

Perhaps it’s because they remind us of toddlers. Babbling children are at the peak age to deliver comic relief and the Minions most certainly remind us of them. Or perhaps it’s because their babbling allows our imagination to fill in the gaps. If we were to understand Kevin and Bob’s many squabbles, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as funny as what our own mind comes up with. All we know for certain, is listening to the minions talk is outrageously amusing.

Dressing up is just plain funny

There’s always been something entertaining about characters dressing up. You can go as far back as the 1930s when Bugs Bunny used to dress up as a woman to trick Elmer Fudd, or even to the modern day where Mrs Browns’ Boys has amassed a huge following. With this in mind, it only makes sense that the minions have got in on the act.

More surprisingly is their range of clothes – they must have a wardrobe bigger than Victoria Beckham’s. From skimpy maid outfits to coconut bikinis, the minions have a plethora of fashion styles. Fortunately for us this fashion show ain’t over as Despicable Me 3 will see them wearing prison uniforms for a more rebellious look.

Their mischievous nature tickles our dark side

There’s a good chance that the class clown in your school wasn’t always on top of his homework. Mischievous children are just more entertaining than a goody-two-shoes. We guarantee Bart Simpson made you laugh more times than Lisa. The minions take mischievous to a new level however. They’re not content with sticking to whoopy cushions for pranking one another.

But please note, before trying to pull such pranks on your friends, remember that the minions are essentially indestructible.

But most importantly they have a heart of gold

The Minions could have easily just been a group of funny yellow blobs without any emotions or ethics – they’re comic relief after all. But their emotions and need for love has been just as important as their ability to make us laugh for their rise in popularity. They’ve helped Agnes, Edith and Margo on numerous occasions, whether it’s been helping them rehearse for dancing or fetching supplies at the supermarket.

But it’s their relationship with Gru that shows off their heart the most, most noticeably when they all lined up for goodnight kisses. They may be round blobs of yellow, but giving them emotions makes them more relatable and adorable. If only they were real…

Click here to book your tickets for Despicable Me 3, opening in Cineworld on 30th June.

Ryan Jones is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.