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Film / Minutemen

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Minutemen is a 2008 comedy/sci-fi/adventure that aired on the Disney Channel about three high school kids who invent a time machine to spare others just like them from the humiliation they've endured.

After a split-second decision on the first day of freshman year, Virgil Fox finds himself stuck at the bottom of the social hierarchy. So when his child prodigy best friend invents a time machine, Virgil decides that the least he can do is save others from the same fate.

Not to be confused with the punk rock band, or the '40s hero team that preceded the failed Crimebusters (not actually the Watchmen).


Minutemen provides examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • One of the reasons Virgil comes up with the idea of helping the other kids like them at the school is because the faculty there doesn't seem to be doing anything about it. At one point, they find Vice Principal Tolkan in front of a vending machine that Chester is currently stuck inside, and doesn't seem to bother doing anything about it on account of not being able to "change the way high school works”.
    • Instead of helping a bare naked Chester get his clothes back from bullies, Tolkan tells him straight to his face that helping him would mean that he’d be "breaking the food chain".
  • Alpha Bitch: Jocelyn Lee. She’s a member of the popular crowd, and participates in humiliating less popular students such as when she removed a caution wet floor sign, causing Eugene to drop a whole tray food on top of himself.
  • Awkward Kiss: Charlie's kiss with Jeanette is pretty awkward considering the fact that he had forgotten that the events leading up to their first kiss hadn't happened yet.
  • Asleep in Class: One of the students the minutemen save is drooling as she sleeps.
  • Big Jerk on Campus: Derek is at the top of the high school fool chain and is a nasty piece of work.
  • Black and Nerdy: Chester is a prime example of this. He's basically if Steve Urkel were in the normal world of the late-2000s.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The Grappling Hook. Discussed by the Minute Men with Zeke insisting it will come in handy. And it does!
  • Child Prodigy: Charlie managed to build a rocket car at 11 years old.
  • Cool Loser: Virgil is funny, kind, and likable, but the incident in his freshman year completely ruined his reputation.
  • Cruel Cheerleader: Subverted with Stephanie. She’s the sweetest girl in school, remaining best friends with Virgil long after the incident that made him hideously unpopular. She also defies the other two stereotypes of cheerleaders, being smart and studious instead of dim witted, and completely devoting herself to one guy at a time instead of flirting with multiple boys at once.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Virgil is this to a T.
  • Dragged into Drag: The incident that polluted Virgil and Charlie’s reputation for the first three years of high school was when, on their first day, the football team dragged them off the field, dressed them in cheerleader uniforms, put makeup, jewelry, and headbands on them, and hung them off the horns of the school’s ram statue for the whole school to see.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Or to be more specific, Stephanie.
  • Evil Former Friend: Derek and Virgil used to be best friends up until their freshman year when Derek decided that popularity was more important to him than his friendship with Virgil and betrays him.
  • Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Gender-flipped. After being humiliated by the football team on his first day, Virgil sunk to the bottom of the Popularity Food Chain, while Derek went on to become the star quarterback and coolest guy on campus.
  • Freshman Fears: Virgil and Charlie became best friends because, on the first day of high-school, they were both hung up on the school's statue by a bunch of Jerk Jocks. This makes Virgil drift apart from his old best friends, who both remained pretty popular, while he became a nerd.
  • Friend Versus Lover: The friend being Virgil vs the lover Derek over Stephanie.
  • Grade Skipper: Charlie skipped three grades which made him a freshman at eleven.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Despite being one of the popular kids, pretty blonde haired Stephanie is still nice to students with a lower social status like Virgil.
  • Hidden Depths: Virgil and Charlie are quite surprised upon learning that Zeke has advanced knowledge in physics.
    Zeke: This quantum integration to the physical properties of light projection looks like it could work.
    [Charlie and Virgil exchange surprised faces]
    Zeke: Yeah, mongo read.
  • High-School Dance: There is a 50s-themed dance at the end of the film, most likely a homage to Back to the Future.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: Charlie even says that he had no friends before his first day of high school when he met Virgil.
  • Jerkass:
    • Vice Principal Tolkan and arguably the entire school staff, as they heavily invoke the Adults Are Useless trope.
    • Chester, and some of the of the other nerds, become this after the guys save him the humiliation he suffered at the hands of the school's resident bullies by giving him cooler clothes than what he usually wears to replace his stolen ones. It gets so bad, he streaks in his boxers at a school football game, and is seen bullying the actual bullies of the school at one point.
    • Derek. He chooses popularity over Virgil, helps the jocks humiliate him, distances himself from Virgil for three years until his friendship was convenient again, and cheats on Stephanie.
  • Jerk Jock: Derek and basically all of the football players that hung Virgil and Charlie up on the rams statue.
  • Limited Social Circle: Outside of each other, the minutemen don’t really hang out with many other students.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Derek/Stephanie/Virgil
    • Jocelyn/Derek/Stephanie.
  • Moment Killer: Derek interrupts Virgil and Stephanie twice when they're about to kiss and tell each other their true feelings.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Minutemen must act quickly to repair the space-time continuum after their time traveling creates a singularity that will eventually destroy the earth.
  • Oblivious to Love: Stephanie is oblivious to Virgil's crush on her.
    Stephanie: "You're a really good friend, Virg."
    Virgil: "Yeah... friend."
  • Once More, with Clarity!: The opening scene shows Derek being somewhat regretful over Charlie and Virgil's humiliation. When Virgil travels back in time, we (and Virgil) see that Derek actually encouraged the humiliation instead of merely not lifting a finger.
  • Popular Is Dumb:
    • Most of the popular kids are depicted this way.
    • Averted with Stephanie.
  • Popular Is Evil: Popularity equals corruption at Summerton High. All the “cool kids” relentlessly torment the dorks and geeks, and the staff never does anything about it in the name of preserving the status quo of high school. Derek, who was once Virgil’s best friend, sold him out on their first day to get In with the In Crowd. The geeks that the Minutemen save from embrassment become respected, and it really goes to their heads, as they even start snubbing people and harassing the guys who once bullied them. Virgil himself even gets Acquired Situational Narcissism when he reconnects with Derek and Stephanie and starts hanging with them and their popular friends.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Charlie and Zeke give one to Virgil when Virgil tries to blame Charlie for being caught by the FBI.
  • The Reveal: It was Derek's idea to hang Charlie and Virgil up on the ram's statue.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Played straight and possibly subverted. When the guys jump back in time, they remember the original timeline, but don't know much the new one until they check to see what changed outside of what they jumped back to change. However, Jeanette possibly shows that just being around the time machine isn't enough to protect one's memory, as when they jumped back to change the outcome of the football game, she asks them if they won, meaning that either she didn't remember why they went back in time, or she knew and her memory was protected. It's worded in a way where it's not too clear, as she asks the question after the newspaper she had changed.
  • Running Gag: Charlie can't get Virgil's handshake with Derek right. When Charlie does get it right, Virgil suggests they make their own.
  • Rousing Speech: Virgil attempts one of these when he's trying to convince Zeke that rescuing students from humiliation is a good idea.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Virgil's goal.
  • Shout-Out: Many references to Back to the Future are in this movie.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: Zeke's Grappling Hook.
  • Stable Time Loop: How is it that the changes stay as they are? Well, in the altered timeline, their alternate selves would either see, or hear about, what happened and, since Charlie and Zeke have a vast knowledge of time travel physics theories, they'd prepare and go back in time to make sure the incident happens the way it did after they'd have jumped back. Charlie could've also left notes for his past self in the time machine room on exactly what they did to make sure their alternate selves did everything correctly, as well explain what the incident was exactly to necessitate the jumping back in the first place so they get the context.
  • Status Quo Is God: Everything that had changed due to the time machine resets back to the way it is at the end of the movie.
    • One of the reasons the principal is a jerkass is because he's actively trying to invoke this trope in real life, saying he could do things to help out the students who get bullied, but he won't. He even punishes Chester later in the film, not because he was the one doing the bullying in that instance, but because that's not how he believes high school works; students radically changing their social statuses so drastically and fast. That's even the reason he wants to capture and expose the Minuteman. Not because of any other reason, but because he doesn't want things to change at the school. Realistically, this would be grounds for dismissal, since one of the reasons for there to be a principal of a school is not only to maintain order, but enforce punishments if they're warranted. If Chester were at a school in the real world, the bullies would've been punished for the things they do to him, especially in the view of a teacher, or the principal.
  • Teen Genius: Building a time machine at 14 years old is pretty impressive for Charlie.
  • Time Travel: The centerpiece of the plot.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: How the time travel works. It seems to work on the principle Back to the Future's did, meaning that once you go back in time, the future/present is changed, unless changed again, and the only ones to remember the incident that set them to change it are the travelers. The only thing that's different, though, is the fact that objects that travel with them are protected from the timeline changes as well, but not ones that are near the vortex as it's active, as seen when Virgil brought a VHS tape of how the school football game played out back in time with them stays as it is, but the school newspaper Jeanette was reading changed after they changed the outcome. The main difference is the fact that the time machine can only go a maximum of 48 hours back, though Charlie was most likely working on a way to travel back further, since Virgil said that he wanted to go back 4 years to stop the incident from the first day of their freshman year. Realistically/practically, though, how would they have expected to travel back to before the time machine was either active, or in existence and, if they managed that, how would they have expected to get back? Sure, Charlie could've maybe built another one, but that would've been a major hassle for all involved, since the time machine doesn't go back with the travelers.
    • Though it brings up the question of where exactly their alternate selves are during the incidents. We see several of the incidents were in full view of at least one of the guys, hence the initial reasons for them to go back in the first place. Realistically, they should still be at those events and we should see them if the camera is pointed at the directions they were at. The end of the movie can be assumed that it's the universe correcting the paradox by replacing their past selves with their present/future selves, but during the film it's unexplained. It wouldn't have been too difficult either. Just get body doubles for the scenes after the incidents are changed, keeping them in a fuzzy background, then insert pick up shots of the actors reacting to them.
  • Toilet Paper Trail: The trio save a young boy from being embarrassed/harassed by this trope.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The desperation for popularity and to impress the jocks made Derek betray Virgil, giving the jocks the idea to hang both Virgil and Charlie on the flagpole on their first day in high school.
    • Arguably the students the Minutemen save, who develop egos after that.
  • Uninvited to the Party: As a result of rebuilding his friendship with Derek and Stephanie, Virgil ends up back in the popular crowd and a party is thrown at his house. He neglects to invite his best friend Charlie, who unfortunately lives next door. Charlie spent the whole night listening to the party in anger, and calls Virgil out on this the next morning.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: The singularity.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Virgil and Derek until the incident left Virgil an outcast while Derek became popular.