Despicable Me 4 Review

Despicable Me 4
When Gru’s (Steve Carell) nemesis Maxime le Mal (Will Ferrell) is released from prison, Gru and his family are forced to adopt new identities and go undercover in a new town. As they adjust to their new life of secrecy, the Minions soar to heroic new heights.

by Barry Levitt |
Published on

It may have been seven years since the last Despicable Me movie, but Despicable Me 4 will be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the ever-expanding billion-dollar franchise. This latest entry has all the hallmarks of Illumination Studios: a steady stream of danceable pop music, an eye-popping palette, and colourful characters with big round eyes and distinct, angular shapes.

Despicable Me 4

An awful lot is going on in the latest adventure for reformed supervillain Gru (Steve Carrell). There are roughly half a dozen plots, none of which come together meaningfully. One, featuring young, wannabe villain Poppy (Joey King), goes nowhere, even if it does yield a few amusing visual gags. There are glimpses of an interesting story – one thread hints at Gru experiencing insecurity about his new baby disliking him, but that never gets a chance to develop. This is the most disconnected entry in the franchise yet.

The screenplay, written by Mike White and Ken Daurio, prioritizes gags over story.

New characters lack impact. There’s the uninspired big bad Maxime le Mal (Will Ferrell), who has an unhealthy obsession with cockroaches and a lifelong hatred for Gru after a mishap at their high school talent show. His girlfriend Valentina (Sofia Vergara) fares worse, existing purely to feign boredom. It’s especially frustrating since they take so much time from the characters we’ve come to love, including a surprisingly minimal amount of Minions in Despicable Me 4.

Speaking of Minions, the newbies are more promising, as a group of everyone’s favourite yellow creatures are turned into superheroes — dubbed the Mega Minions. They’re riffs on familiar superheroes like The Thing and Elastigirl — one gag even recalls a moment in Incredibles 2 — but they’re presented with a clever twist that allows for a fair amount of laughs.

Though there’s an overall lack of cohesion, there is some fun to be had here. The screenplay, written by Mike White and Ken Daurio, prioritizes gags over story. Even if this is the weakest effort in the franchise, it still manages a few laughs.

It looks fantastic, Gru is still loveable, and smaller viewers will be engaged enough. But Despicable Me 4 stalls in its overstuffed plot and its lack of an interesting narrative.
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