Despicable Me 4

The Despicable Me movies follow the same trajectory as the Shrek movies. The first was a terrific animated breath of fresh air, followed by an equally satisfying sequel. However, as the series progressed, the subsequent entries slowly ran out of gas until they were creatively bankrupt.

Still, that won’t stop audiences from seeing this fourth installment, which provides more of the same old, same old.

Steve Carell returns as Gru, along with his minions, wife (Kristen Wiig), and three adoptive daughters. This time around, he encounters an old enemy in the form of Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell). Le Mal wants revenge for Gru’s imprisonment. Le Mal has also fashioned a new substance that makes him part cockroach.

Gru and company have to leave to protect themselves from Le Mal after he escapes from prison. They make their way to a new town with new identities and try to fit in. Their next-door neighbor is Stephen Colbert, a yuppy who loves attending a country club. Gru tries to win his approval.

The movie showcases the Minions doing their nonsensical shtick, but this time, a few get superpowers, becoming known as the Megaminions. It’s one of the few bright spots, but it’s marginally humorous at best.

There’s some sporadic invention in Despicable Me 4, but it’s sadly bogged down by an overabundance of characters and a story that tries to be a consistent sugar rush. Some plot elements do nothing more than serve as a setup for slapstick that really doesn’t work.

It’s impossible to care when the movie gives too many plot contrivances when we can see them coming a mile away. Younger kids and longtime fans of the franchise won’t mind, as it’s a familiar regurgitation, but Despicable Me 4 doesn’t know when to quit.

It’ll no doubt entertain its target audience, but sooner or later, the filmmakers must move on.

Grade: C+

(Rated PG for action and rude humor.)

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