Minions. Penguins. That terrifying McDonald’s Living Happy Meal Abomination.
Silly, bizarre and often silent, these wacky little moments in children’s films are beginning to come into their own and, with the examples of the Penguins and the Minions, are starting to spawn their own movies and spinoffs.
Of course they are. The “main” characters in their features are all pretty darn boring.
I have not found one person who actually engaged with the main cadre of stereotypes that Madagascar called its main cast, and any mention of Despicable Me doesn’t bring up the main topic, characters, or struggle, but usually monosyllabic responses like “Bottom” or “Banana.”
Does the popularity of the Minions from Despicable Me or the Penguins from Madagascar all but prove that the writers have no idea how to make interesting or engaging main characters? How many times lately have you found yourself being much more interested in a side character than in the designated hero of a film or television show? I suppose this has always happened to some extent: you can go all the way back to people like Falstaff for an example of a smaller character becoming widely popular… but does it ever feel like modern writers are just lazy enough to go to the same boring, predictable wells over and over again?
Or… is it that they are too locked in to a rigid profile for each of the marquee stars that they can only express themselves through side characters? Is there a certain list of do’s and don’ts for our Hollywood heroes, turning almost every single main character into a bland, supposedly “relatable” protagonist who spends most of his time being outshined by yellow one-eyed butter goblins? One of the main reasons I liked Scott Pilgrim so much is because it wasn’t afraid to make its hero have problems and be imperfect… and that movie bombed terribly. Is there some sort of system put in place, or do audiences just demand, horribly bland and “safe” main characters, and if so… why?
Stay tuned for more…