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Despicable Me 4 ★★★



Released: 12th July 2024

Directors: Chris Renaud and Patrick Delage

Cast: Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Kristen Wiig

Review By: Kat Hughes

After the release of Despicable Me in 2010, the world was struck with Minion fever. The dungaree clad ‘helpers’ of wannabe master villain Gru (Steve Carell) captured audiences’ hearts with their silly antics. In the fourteen years that have elapsed since, the series, which now spans several sequels and spin-off movies, has become the highest-grossing animation franchise in cinema history. Despicable Me 4 arrives this month to help grow the already impressive $4.6 billion box-office takings. 

Although it has only been two years since Minions: The Rise of Gru, it has been seven years since the last Despicable Me movie. In that time the popularity of the banana loving henchmen has continued to grow, but this latest entry pushes them back into the shadows to focus once more on Gru and his family. Despite the passage of time, Gru, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), Agnes (Madison Polan), Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), and Edith (Dana Gaier), have not aged. As with any popular animation, directors Chris Renaud and Patrick Delage have opted to freeze the characters in time. This move makes it easier for the audience to return and reform connections, but the two do shake things up slightly with the addition of a new family member – Gru Jr. The introduction of the baby freshens the family setting and creates ample opportunity for new gags. 

The new family member isn’t the only change this time around. After his arch-nemesis, Maxime la Mal (Will Ferrell), escapes capture, Gru and co are placed into witness protection by the Anti-Villain League. The change in location and identities further switches up the story from the previous three films and shows there are still plenty of adventures left for Gru. Carell is once again on fine-form voicing Gru, with the character just as embarrassingly awkward as always. Gru is the Homer Simpson of the series and that comparison potentially explains the franchise’s longevity and ability to consistently draw in a crowd. His antics this time might not be quite as entertaining as in previous films, but there remain a few standout sequences – a honey badger heist being one of them – that are sure to entertain. 

Whilst Gru is front and centre, sadly Lucy and the young girls have little to do. Their move into the background began in Despicable Me 3 and continues to diminish here. The quartet are side-tracked to grant time to Gru’s pre-teen neighbour, Poppy (Joey King), and the villain of the piece Maxime le Mal. Whilst this makes sense to keep the narrative short and concise, it is a shame that these focal characters have faded into the background. 

The Minions’ sub-plot, which sees five of them become super-powered, feels adrift to the main story; children however will enjoy being introduced to the Mega Minion team. The problem is they exist almost exclusively outside of the framework of the main narrative and their addition to the main plot isn’t as cohesive as it should be. Outside of this side story, the Minions are a constant source of slapstick humour, which will delight younger audience members. For the grown-ups, Renaud and Delage have carefully peppered in some jokes that will go straight over the heads of youngsters. An early one involving Agnes teaching her pet Lucky to sit, provides one of the strongest and most unexpected adults-only fit of giggles. In carefully catering to all ages, the directing duo ensure that Despicable Me 4 is a film that the whole family can enjoy. 

Those that have been previously immune to the charms of Gru and the Minions are unlikely to be swayed by this latest offering. Existing fans however, will find another consistent entry into the juggernaut franchise. Despicable Me 4 can’t quite grasp the heart of the original, but Renaud and Delage manage to steer the ship reasonably toward the inevitable next entry. Full of colour and laughter, Despicable Me 4 is the perfect film to entertain the kids with this summer.

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