The yellow-coloured minions are among the most critic-proof animated characters ever created. Considered opinion and critical distance are useless defences against the sight of even a single one of the mites with its wide eyes and goofy grin bobbing across the screen.

First introduced in Despicable Me in 2010 as the assistants of supervillain Gru, the manic, reckless, clueless, obedient, and puppy-happy minions were begging for a movie spin-off. So here they finally are, saving the honour of the Queen of England during a quest to find a “boss” who will rule over their tribe.

The strictly-for-kids, disposable plot of Minions establishes that the little things have been on the planet and communicating with each other in a version of Esperanto for longer than you think. The creatures with the exuberance of very young boys and the happiness of warm puppies have been looking for a master for eons, and have hit up such varied possibilities as a tyrannosaurus and an Egyptian pharaoh to lead them (though towards what is never clear). Due to their excessive enthusiasm, they unfailingly drive away their chosen leaders. By the time the calendar has reached 1968, they are in danger of collectively sinking into a deep depression.

To set matters straight, Kevin, accompanied by one-eyed Stuart and Bob, head out into the world that lies beyond their Arctic cave home, making their way to America and meeting the potential mother of all bosses: the criminal Scarlett Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock).

Fun, fun, fun

From America to England, where Overkill hopes to steal the crown of the Queen of England with the help of her new assistants, and all the way till the climax, it’s a relentlessly gag-filled and cheerful trip aimed at invoking fun in letters large enough to be seen on Pluto. In terms of character shading, such as it is, each of the three knights in denim overalls is given a different tic. Kevin is the thinking one, Stuart wants to be a rock star, and Bob is cute.

Directors Kyle Balda and Pierre Coffin (the latter also voices the three main minions) keep their ambitions low and their energy reserves high over 91 minutes. Setting the film in 1968 is an excuse to roll out such period classics as My Generation and Got To Get You Into My Life, while the locations in England provide more standard comedic tropes such as the stiff British upper lip and the tendency to consume tea on all occasions.

It’s sometimes aimless, often hilarious and always silly, everything you would expect the minions to be.