The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | ‘Despicable Me 4’ proves why the series should end

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Miranda Cosgrove poses with Minions at Despicable Me 2 premiere.

Rating: 4/10

The original “Despicable Me” movie was released almost 14 years ago. The original plot involved the heartfelt story of a villain learning to be a good father to three orphans while balancing his evil work. With a funny cast of characters, a heartwarming story and, of course, the Minions, it’s clear why the movie was such a success.

The newest installment of the franchise is “Despicable Me 4,” a movie that struggles to hold onto the original film’s magic while languishing in a dull plot and few funny jokes.

The film follows Gru (Steve Carell) as he continues his Anti-Villian League activities and attempts to stop the newest villain in the series, Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell). After Gru’s family is threatened, they’re moved to the seaside town of Mayflower, where they take up new identities and attempt to follow normal lives.

The rest of Gru’s family, including Gru’s wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and the children, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier) and Agnes (Madison Polan), all try but fail to fit into normal lives. Gru is also facing a new problem in the form of Gru Jr., his new baby who seems to despise him.

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Maxime isn’t the only villain in this film, as Gru’s new neighbor Poppy Prescott (Joey King) blackmails him into some evil plans of her own. And of course, the Minions are up to their antics, including the formation of an X-Men parody team called the Mega-Minions, who cause mayhem in their own way.

The soundtrack is well done, with Pharrell Williams releasing another single for the franchise: “Double Life.” The song, playing over the opening scene, is catchy, fun and adds life to a film that mostly uses pop hits from the past few years for the rest of its runtime.

In a golden era of animation, it’s easy for the film’s animation studio Illumination to fall short. Movies like “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” have set a new standard for how animated movies should look and feel. With animation as a market growing fast, studios need to keep up with the rising popularity.

In this regard, the movie does a surprisingly good job of meeting its competitors. Many unique angles and perspectives make the film seem original while still retaining the rubbery, soft style that Illumination films are known for. 

But those same industry standards are also chock-full of rich and engaging stories that kids and adults can enjoy, something that this movie severely and noticeably lacks.

The movie seems to be a series of shorts cobbled together into a movie, rather than a full feature film. Different members of the cast are engaged in their personal vignettes as the plot attempts to progress, and very little is done to connect their stories. Even the climax of the film seems to only feature Gru, Gru Jr., Maxim and Poppy actively fighting.

These constant jumps in focus are what make the movie feel fragmented and incomplete. Rather than starting with a plot and building funny scenes around it, the movie puts its all into making comedic bits that also happen to advance the plot.

The comedy in the movie isn’t terrible. The Minions are, as in past movies, the funniest characters, providing a slapstick comedy that manages to not feel outdated or overly childish. A particular standout is a montage of the Mega-Minions attempting to help civilians, which charmingly parodied classic comic scenes and superhero cliches. 

And of course, there are still jokes aimed mostly at children and those specifically for adults. But the jokes do little to distract from the slow, painful pace of the plot. Instead, they seem to amplify just how little the story matters in a movie that is mostly short films put together.

“Despicable Me 4” wasn’t terrible. It had some good animation and a few funny scenes; but altogether, it barely resembles the magic the original once had. Illumination, obviously chasing the success of previous films, continues to push out more “Despicable Me” content and, hopefully, this film will finally be the sign to lay the series to rest. 


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