Entertainment

Despicable Me 4 Review: A Minion-Centric Adventure That Falls Short

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Despicable Me 4 should more accurately be called Minions 6. This isn’t necessarily a critique, but it does highlight the shifting focus of the franchise and its producer, Illumination, which has increasingly centered its branding around the Minions. This latest installment reflects a scattered series in which its chattering yellow mascots are the only consistent elements.

In this chapter, reformed villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) continues his work with the Anti-Villain League (AVL), thwarting colorful criminals aiming to dominate or destroy the world. Gru is now a family man, married to Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) and raising their biological son along with three daughters: Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Madison Polan). Despite the passage of time, the children remain the same age, reminiscent of The Simpsons’ timeless approach.

This agelessness isn’t an issue but signals that these movies cater to new generations of young viewers rather than aiming to retain an older audience. The Minions—Kevin, Stuart, and Bob—return with minimal individual personalities, serving as interchangeable comedic relief. In Despicable Me 4, they’re joined by Ralph, Ron, and Gus, who merge into a homogeneous, slapstick mass despite slight variations in appearance.

The Minions, speaking gibberish with snippets of Spanish and Italian, are simultaneously the most irritating and entertaining part of the film. Gru’s storyline revolves around attending a reunion at his alma mater to capture the cockroach-themed villain Maxime Le Mal (voiced by Will Ferrell). When Maxime escapes and vows revenge, Gru and his family must go into hiding, adopting new identities in an affluent neighborhood.

The plot fragments into a series of unrelated vignettes featuring Gru and his family interacting with various neighbors and teachers, who disappear as quickly as they appear. These scenes, including Gru playing tennis with a neighbor voiced by Stephen Colbert, lack cohesion and relevance to the main plot.

Despite its younger target audience, the movie’s humor seems aimed at adults, with jokes about rising gas prices and other topical issues. However, the comedy doesn’t stem from the characters, rendering it superficial.

Parallel to Gru’s antics, the AVL gives five Minions superhero powers, parodying Marvel characters like Cyclops, the Hulk, and members of the Fantastic Four. This subplot, while amusing, doesn’t tie into the main narrative and feels like a missed opportunity for a standalone Minion superhero film.

Visually, Despicable Me 4 suffers from an uncanny realism, with more lifelike textures and unsettlingly realistic cockroaches. These elements push the characters into a disturbing uncanny valley, likely unappealing to both young viewers and adults.

For better or worse, the Minions remain consistently foolish and energetic, whether leading their Avengers-style plot or providing background antics. While they have arguably overstayed their welcome outside the franchise, their simplicity ensures they are a reliable source of humor, even when the rest of the movie falters.

Despicable Me 4 delivers sporadic laughs and Minion-driven antics but ultimately falls short with a disjointed plot and lackluster character development. It may entertain young fans, but it fails to offer the depth or charm of its predecessors.

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