In June 2013, I wrote a review of Despicable Me 2 in which I criticised the Minions as “the embodiment of stupidity; relying on the presumption that the only things kids find funny are toilet humour, effeminate behaviour and transvestitism.” I’m not going to retract any of what I wrote then, but I will announce that Universal’s Minions prequel is a far funnier, wittier and more enjoyable film than Despicable 2 was. It doesn’t come close to the genius invention of the 2010 original (which had very little Minion action), but its 1960s period setting and eclectic cast of adult characters gives it a broader, somewhat maturer sensibility than the abominable 2013 sequel. Minions begins with some Minion backstory, narrated by Geoffrey Rush. It is for several minutes seemingly nothing more than a cheaper, inferior version of what last year’s Penguins of Madagascar (a much better film than this, it must be said) opened with, but Rush saying “ba-na-na” in his thespian’s voice is uproariously funny. The funniest moments of Minions almost always stem from somebody dropping “ba-na-na” in the middle of a sentence or speech. It’s comedy gold. The actual appearance, speech and behaviour of the Minions themselves is as fish-clenchingly irritating to anyone over the age of 8 as always, but the fact that only three of their breed (Stuart, Kevin and Bob) appear in the film a whole lot makes it more bearable. The film’s comic finale is full to the brim with smart references and originality, though all suffers in comparison to Pixar’s recent masterpiece Inside Out. The soundtrack, including some The Doors and much The Beatles, is undeniably delightful, and one leaves with the sense that harmless- though forgettable- family entertainment doesn’t have to be cynical to be fun.