‘Despicable Me 4’ Movie Review: Cute… But Ultimately Forgettable

Despicable Me 4

After a seven-year hiatus, the Despicable Me franchise returns with its fourth installment. As a longtime fan, I had high hopes for this sequel. While it offers some cute moments and will likely be a fun watch for younger viewers, it ultimately feels like a rehash of familiar themes without bringing much new to the table.

Following the billion-dollar success of 2022’s Minions: The Rise of Gru, Illumination’s Despicable Me 4 sees Gru (Steve Carell) and Lucy (Kristen Wiig) welcoming a mischievous new baby while facing off against nemesis Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell) and his girlfriend Valentina (Sofia Vergara). With fresh voices joining the cast and Pierre Coffin returning as the Minions, the family goes on the run in this latest animated adventure.

Check out the trailer below.

Despicable Me 4 Movie Trailer

Despicable Me 4 Movie Review: What I Did and Didn’t Like

On the positive side, Despicable Me 4 maintains the colorful, zany animation style that has become the series’ trademark. And from that standpoint, it’s a beautiful film – the animation looks great!

The Minions, as always, provide slapstick humor that will have the kids giggling throughout the 96-minute runtime. There were also some clever Easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans of the previous films. However, the movie falls short in providing entertainment for adult fans. I didn’t find myself laughing much at all, and the plot felt strikingly similar to The Incredibles, making it feel derivative rather than fresh.

The Story

Gru, now working for the Anti-Villain League, faces off against Maxime Le Mal, a former classmate from his supervillain academy days. Maxime has created a weapon that can turn people into insects, forcing Gru and his family into witness protection in the suburbs. As they struggle to fit into their new environment, Gru must also contend with his mischievous newborn son and a neighborhood girl who blackmails him into returning to villainy.

While this setup has potential, the execution feels a bit formulaic. We’ve seen Gru balance family life with his secret agent/former villain status before, and this iteration doesn’t add anything particularly novel to the mix. The suburban fish-out-of-water scenario, complete with snobby neighbors and identity mishaps, treads familiar ground without offering new insights or truly memorable moments of laughter. The subplot involving super-powered Minions just feels tacked on, and more like a series of disconnected skits than an integral part of the story. 

Despicable Me 4 Free Movie Screening

The Voice Acting

The voice cast remains a strength of the franchise. Steve Carell continues to bring charm and humor to Gru with his distinctive accent and delivery. I could watch Gru all day. And I credit that largely to how Carell continues to bring such charisma to the character – and how beautiful the animators capture that.

Kristen Wiig provides solid support as Lucy, though her character isn’t given much to do beyond typical sitcom-wife scenarios. Will Ferrell joins the cast as Maxime Le Mal, bringing his trademark energy to the role. However, the character feels underdeveloped, failing to reach the memorable villain status of earlier franchise antagonists like Vector or Balthazar Bratt.

The returning voice actors for the girls – Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, and Madison Polan – do well with what they’re given, but their characters take a backseat to the new baby and suburban antics. Pierre Coffin’s Minion voices remain a highlight, even if the little guys’ antics feel less fresh this time around.

Despicable Me 4

Overall Thoughts

Despicable Me 4 isn’t a bad movie, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that it exists primarily for financial reasons rather than to tell a compelling new story. For younger fans, especially those 10 and under, it will likely be a fun watch. The familiar characters, bright animation, and Minion mayhem provide enough entertainment to keep them engaged.

However, for older viewers and parents, the movie offers little beyond a sense of comfort in the familiar. The lack of substantial character development for Gru and his family, combined with a plot that feels cobbled together from elements of previous films and other animated features, results in a viewing experience that’s more forgettable than despicable.

The franchise’s strength has always been its ability to balance heart, humor, and inventive villainy. While glimpses of these elements appear in Despicable Me 4, they never coalesce into something greater than the sum of its parts. Overall, Despicable Me 4 feels like a missed opportunity. With such a long gap since the last main franchise movie, there was potential to take these beloved characters in new and exciting directions. Instead, we get a rehash of familiar themes and jokes that, while occasionally amusing, fail to justify the film’s existence beyond its commercial appeal.

Despicable Me 4 Movie Review:

Grade: C


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