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'Despicable Me 4' review: More of the same, repetitive, annoying Minion mayhem

Courtesy of Universal


As long as they keep minting billions of dollars, I’d suspect the “Despicable Me” franchise, or more over, the “Minions” franchise, will keep being cranked out. So it’s not a shock that we’re staring down the barrel of “Despicable Me 4,” which is the first entry that doesn’t have “Minions” in the title in at least seven years. If you have small children, chances are you’re already well aware of that stat, and it’s that targeted demographic who will benefit the most from this tireless, disjointed, and visually inept sequel that isn’t so much a movie, rather it’s comprised of scattershot, thinly veiled episodes with a loose throughline involving a french villain, voiced by Will Ferrell, trying to stop Gru and his cohorts.

What started in 2010 as a modestly engaging series (and when those once lovable yellow Minions were in their infancy) has become a fraction of its former self. Long gone is the heart, the genuine laughs, and the eagerness to care about these characters, and instead the writers are content with recycling and repurposing the Minions for tired visual gags and slapstick humor because they know it’s what sells tickets. 

“Despicable Me 4” does try injecting some new blood into the movie and naturally gives Gru a son to look after (who I assume is going to stay a baby forever as the filmmakers have said they’re talking a “Simpsons” approach to aging in this series), and he’s kinda cute if only Jack-Jack from “The Incredibles” hadn’t done the schtick before. The baby can’t stand his dad, and, in one of the films only real chuckles, is how he behaves when his mom, Lucy (Kristen Wiig) picks him up versus his papa. 

Gru is still in the super-villian business, only he’s been working as an informant for the Anti-Villain League, tracking down potential baddies. His latest case involves a former classmate named Maxime (Ferrell) who’s current plot involves turning people (including himself) into, er, cockroaches? When he breaks out of prison, it forces Gru and his family into witness protection, and the entire movie descends into a series of vignettes involving snotty next-door neighbors (voiced by Stephen Colbert), persnickety karate instructors, and a heist to steal a honey badger. 

Elsewhere, a slew of sight gags and fart humor manifests around the Minions transformation into “Mega Minions” which sounds about as lame as you can imagine, and essentially answers the question: What if the Minions were also superheroes? One has laser vision like Cyclops from “X-Men,” another can fly, and one mutates to look like an off-shoot of The Thing of “Fantastic Four” notoriety. 

Coming on the heels of the smart, thoughtful “Inside Out 2” that builds real humor from its circumstances makes “Despicable Me 4” all the more jarring. Sure, the bright 3D animation from Illumination still remains a delight to see on the big screen, but today’s children deserve a more apt cinematic diet. It’s also hard for a grown adult to review this series because, obviously, it wasn’t made for me and the children in attendance at my screening seemed to be laughing themselves silly. The parents on the other hand? Not so much. 

Grade: C-

DESPICABLE ME 4 is now playing in theaters. 

1 comment


davenport kim
davenport kim
7 days ago

I'm really impressed with the latest installments of this popular animated series. Bright and fun 3D animation brings viewers a lot of fun. flappy bird


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