Despicable Me 4 Review: Fun Film For Most of the Family

Since 2010, Gru and his minions have delighted and captivated children and adults alike. Now, the Steve Carrell-led comedy series has a new installment, Despicable Me 4, packed with family shenanigans and a new villain—Maxime Le Mal, played by the talented Will Ferrell.

This family film is perfect for kids of all ages. It has humorous moments that you can enjoy no matter your age. However, there are times when the film does drag a bit for the more seasoned moviegoers, aka the adults/parents.

For a film franchise that now boasts at least seven films, between the Gru tales and the minion side films, Despicable Me 4 could easily be a movie that doesn’t capture the audience’s attention at all. However, it still manages to bring something new to the table.

It’s Now a Family Affair

First and foremost, since we first met Gru, his family has only expanded to include Margo, Agnes, and Edith then Lucy. Now, the family has expanded once more to include a son, Gru Junior (which doesn’t make much sense since Gru is the surname, but I digress).

It’s a delightful adventure to see the three girls still being as ornery and sarcastic as ever. No matter what changes in their lives whether it was getting a mom and now a baby brother, these three can always be counted on for a bit of a reality check from time to time.

One of the cutest moments is when they are told they have to change their names and go undercover to stay safe. Agnes struggles to comply because she knows they aren’t supposed to lie. This leads to some off-beat moments at their karate class and then again between Agnes and Gru.

Seeing Gru learn to be a good father to these girls over the years has been what’s made the character so special from the start. Now, we get to see him start all over again with his infant son, who clearly prefers mom to dad.

Gru is blackmailed into a heist adventure with the neighbor girl, Poppy, which presents the perfect bonding experience for him and Junior. And honestly, that seems to be the biggest takeaway from this whole plot point to begin with.

Poppy and Maxime Le Mal are Nice Antagonists, But Not Much Else

One of the biggest issues with this film comes from the introduction of new characters. Sure, we know the formula at this point. Gru makes a change in his life and is happy so something has to come along and threaten that.

In the first film, Gru’s journey is threatened by another villain, so he “adopts” the girls to catch people off-guard when he enacts his plan. The same plot happens in the 2nd and 3rd films with different “solutions” from Gru to solve them.

In Despicable Me 4, Gru is forced into hiding because his arch-nemesis from his school days has escaped prison and is coming for him. He is then blackmailed into doing villainy with a young girl living next door.

So, at the end of the day, Poppy and Maxime end up being excellent antagonists but are easily replaceable. There is nothing unique or memorable about either of these villains.

With Poppy she would’ve been better suited to maybe be an antagonist for Margo, who is struggling to adjust to attending a new school. Instead, the writers thought it best to have her blackmail Gru and force him to complete a heist with her.

It’s a fun plot, but takes away from time that could be better spent having Gru face off against Maxime. It’s very obvious to adults that the time is being split unnecessarily between these two new villains when really the film only needs one.

Which, I guess if you are catering to a younger audience that is okay. However, the parents and adults will be going to see the film with the kids. Therefore, some thought needs to be put into their enjoyment as well.

Minions Shenanigans Result in Pointless Action Sequences

Another glaring issue with the film is the minions. While Gru and his family are forced into hiding, their minions have to go somewhere, so they are housed at headquarters.

Almost immediately, it becomes apparent what purpose they will serve there. They will be injected with a super serum, turning them into superheroes. But for what?

Sure, we see them do some typical minion shenanigans in the name of helping others. However, overall, the point of having them as part of the film at all gets drowned out in the busyness of everything else.

Honestly, I feel like this particular subplot would’ve been better served in the next Minions film instead of being an unnecessary subplot to this one.

Dissatisfying Conclusion

At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves one question. Does Despicable Me 4 measure up to the other films? In the simplest terms, yes.

Looking into the film more deeply is where it starts to fall apart. As mentioned before, introducing too many new characters pulls focus and makes the story choppy and jump around.

By the end of the conflict with Maxime, we didn’t feel satisfied because we never truly understood his or Gru’s motivations. Sure, they both had trouble with each other during their school days, but is that really a strong enough motivation to keep the rivalry going for decades?

And what was the point of making Junior into a cockroach? Especially if the mind control portion of that decision was so easily undone by Gru’s presence and influence on his son’s life.

Ultimately, this is highly enjoyable for kids especially those young enough to take a movie at face value. Once you start to break down what actually happens regarding the plot, this movie falls apart.



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Mads is a part-time entertainment journalist and full-time marketing content creator. They love reading the latest in Queer novels -- especially romance ones and watching the latest dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, Star Wars, and romcom films/TV shows. You can join the conversation by following them on Twitter: @dorothynyc89.

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