Movies & TV / Reviews

Despicable Me 4 Review

July 3, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Despicable Me 4 Image Credit: Illumination & Universal Pictures
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Despicable Me 4 Review  

Directed By: Chris Renaud
Written By: Mike White, Ken Daurio
Runtime: 94 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association for action and rude humor

Steve Carell – Felonious Gru
Will Ferrell – Maxime Le Mal
Kristen Wiig – Lucy Wilde
Joey King – Poppy Prescott
Sofía Vergara – Valentina
Stephen Colbert – Perry Prescott
Chloe Fineman – Patsy Prescott
Miranda Cosgrove – Margo
Dana Gaier – Edith
Madison Polan – Agnes
Steve Coogan – Silas Ramsbottom
June Squibb – Principal Übelschlecht
Pierre Coffin – Minions

The Despicable Me franchise hits rock bottom with its latest overstuffed entry. Despicable Me 4 throws everything at the wall, and nothing sticks with this laboriously tired sequel. Chris Renaud lays it on heavy with excessive, nonstop gags and few genuine laughs. Mike White and Ken Daurio’s script is jam-packed with subplots sprinting face-first into a wall which results in the film lacking any semblance of a cohesive plot. Instead, the film portrays all the characters doing wacky things and sprinting face-first into a brick wall.

Despicable Me 4 picks up with the reformed ex-supervillain, Felonious Gru (Carrell),. returning to his old academic stomping grounds for a reunion at the esteemed villain school, Lycée Pas Bon. Gru apprehends his old childhood rival, the cockroach-obsessed Maxime Le Mal (Ferrell), on behalf of the Anti-Villain League (AVL). Unfortunately for Gru and his family, Maxime Le Mal soon escapes from prison, driven to take revenge against his archenemy. AVL head honcho Silas Ramsbottom (Coogan) uproots Gru and his family, relocating them to the bougie, suburban hellhole of Mayflower.

Gru’s family struggles to adjust to their new surroundings, with wife Lucy (Wiig) becoming a hairdresser for an upper-class salon, which ends in complete disaster. Gru draws the ire of his next-door neighbor, Perry Prescott (Colbert). His daughters Agnes (Polan) and Edith (Gaier) are dealing with a mean karate instructor, while Margo (Cosgrove) must attend a new school with new people she’s unfamiliar with. Gru also wants to bond with his infant son, Junior, but he’s more of a momma’s boy, constantly rejecting his dad’s affection.

Meanwhile, the AVL takes on most of the franchise’s beloved mascots, the Minions (Coffin), as their new staff, upgrading a handful of the creatures with enhanced super-powers, creating the Mega-Minions to bring Maxime Le Mal to justice. Instead, the Mega-Minions cause more mayhem than they’re worth. Gru deals with another problem as the daughter of their affluent next-door neighbors, Poppy Prescott (King), realizes the former super-villain’s true identity. Soon, she blackmails the ex-supervillain to make her his apprentice in the hopes of entering Lycée Pas Bon. Also, Maxime Le Mal seeks revenge against his old rival, hoping to kidnap Gru and Lucy’s infant baby.

Rather than a cohesive sequel, Despicable Me 4 comes off more like the premise of a television show that is continuing Gru’s adventures. This results in a storyline overstuffed with various subplots, enough for an entire season’s worth of television, all into one movie. None of the subplots receive proper room to breathe and develop. Gru’s adopted daughters, Margo (Cosgrove), Edith (Gaier), and Agnes (Polan), feel like total afterthoughts. That was a problem in the previous movie, and it’s only amplified in the fourquel. Gru’s loving wife, Lucy, attempts to become a hairdresser at a bougie salon, fails when she encounters a snooty customer. Her short-lived experience as a hairdresser culminates in an overused Terminator 2 that’s already been milked to death a million times in the last thirty-plus years.

Gru constantly tries and fails to bond with his baby boy Junior, who is more of a momma’s boy, as well as reluctantly serving as the would-be mentor for Poppy Prescott. On top of that, the plot piles on the business with the Minions joining the AVL and Maxime Le Mal’s villainous machinations, and over a dozen subplots. Despicable Me 4 bites off significantly more than it can chew. While Maxime Le Mal is the villain, he harmlessly fades into the background until it becomes time for the final act. His girlfriend and right hand, Valentina (Vergara), has even less to do, and the film wastes her talents in a throwaway role.

The franchise’s beloved mascots, the Minions, have become a tiresome gimmick. Even the film’s big marketing catch with the Mega-Minions is gloriously dated and unfunny, complete with a groan-inducing meta-joke, “We’re all sick of superheroes.” It’s not the superheroes that are tiresome, but the pill-shaped, oblong goofballs. They’re loud, they scream, they cause endless bedlam, and their humorous appeal has worn off. The Minions became the breakout stars of the first movie, and Illumination milked that cow dry. And not only has the Minion cow been milked dry, but its bones are turning to dust. The Minions as an overplayed gimmick has never been more evident. The Mega-Minions gag came about five years too late.

While the movie constantly seeks jokes, the film features few laughs throughout the runtime. The lone high-brow laugh comes from Gru bringing home an assortment of dairy substitutes from the grocery store. Lucy ponders, “What about regular milk,” and Gru casually responds, “They don’t make that anymore.” Watching a movie constantly deliver a parade of nonstop jokes with such little success becomes a mind-numbing, grating experience. Gru fails to have any meaningful material dialogue or jokes. Instead, the filmmakers rely on the humor coming from his quasi-European accent.

Will Ferrell’s Maxime Le Mal amounts to a similar disappointment. Will Ferrell playing the main villain in an animated movie should be an absolute riot. Instead, Maxime Le Mal has only two gimmicks. He’s French with a wacky French accent, and due to his obsession with cockroaches, he mutates his body into a grotesque cockroach hybrid. The humor and characters in Despicable Me 4 are so random and unfunny that it’s hard to enjoy the experience.

Had Despicable Me 4 managed to focus on two or three subplots rather than throwing in so many with little success, the plot might have been able to find an emotional core. Illumination stuffs so many jokes and gags into the film that children will likely still enjoy the experience, but the franchise has run completely dry.

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
Despicable Me 4 reaches the dregs of the animated franchise. The Minions' gags wear excessively thin. The movie packs in too many subplots, resulting in few of them gaining meaningful traction. The film delivers an excessive number of jokes with very few laughs. The experience is bright, colorful, loud, and visually ostentatious, with nonstop gags, which means small children might still enjoy all the goofy humor and antics of the Minions. However, the franchise has lost any semblance of a plot or genuine laughs. Illumination's animators created exceptional-looking sequences and animated visuals, but the film lacks any sense of a cohesive plot. As a result, Despicable Me amounts to a mind-numbing, unentertaining experience.