‘Despicable Me 4’ Review: We Don’t Need Another Movie

The saga of Gru, the bumbling supervillain with a heart, continues to unfold in the latest instalment of the ‘Despicable Me’ series. Voiced by Steve Carell, Gru is instantly recognisable with his bald head, pointy nose, and peculiar accent. This is the fourth film in the main series, and the sixth if you count the two spin-offs starring his yellow, gibberish-speaking minions.

While the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise by Illumination Entertainment has never quite reached the creative heights of Pixar’s finest, it certainly owes a debt to films like ‘The Incredibles.’ This influence is particularly evident as Gru and his family find themselves relocated to a new city under witness protection, a plotline reminiscent of the classic Pixar film.

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Despite this, ‘Despicable Me’ has shown remarkable staying power, delighting audiences with its consistent family entertainment. And let’s not forget, this is the series that brought us the irresistibly catchy ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams, who returns to contribute new songs for this film.

The latest chapter in Gru’s life kicks off with his arrival at a high school reunion at his old supervillain school, the Lycée Pas Bon, nestled somewhere in the francophone parts of Europe. Here, the Class of ’85 has gathered, and Gru, now firmly on the side of good, faces off against his old classmate and nemesis, Maxime Le Mal (played by Will Ferrell).

Maxime possesses a fearsome weapon that can transform mammals, humans included, into cockroaches. As Maxime targets Gru, his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and their children, the family is forced into hiding in a bland suburb under new identities.

'Despicable Me 4 Review
Image Courtesy: IMDb

In this new setting, Gru meets the neighbour’s kid, Poppy (Joey King), who has an intriguing proposition for him. Meanwhile, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), the pompous head of the Anti-Villain League, has been working on new biotechnology to upgrade the minions into more effective crime fighters. While the minions may be the least amusing part of the Despicable Me films for some, they remain an essential and quirky element that appeals to young children and international audiences with their universal brand of nonverbal comedy.

The suburban scenes where Gru and Lucy pretend to be ordinary citizens, Chet the solar panel salesman and Blanche the hairstylist, add a charming touch, reminiscent of classic TV shows like ‘Bewitched’ or ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ The family, burdened with their secrets, tries to adapt to their mundane new life, adding a layer of humour and warmth.

'Despicable Me 4 Review
Image Courtesy: IMDb

Of course, the inevitable confrontation with Maxime leads to some distressing moments as he uses his cockroach gun on the most vulnerable members of Gru’s family. A more serious or cynical film might delve deeper into the fear and consequences of such actions, but that’s not the style of ‘Despicable Me’. It doesn’t strive for masterpiece status, and perhaps the world doesn’t need a ‘Despicable Me 5.’ However, the franchise’s ability to provide unassuming, enjoyable entertainment shouldn’t be underestimated.