Despicable Me 4 review: "Full of nostalgic value and Minion-induced hilarity"

Steve Carrell as Gru in Despicable Me 4 (2024)
(Image: © Universal)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

Offering heart and Minion-induced hilarity, this is another solid – if familiar – entry in the Despicable saga.

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Fourth installments in franchises can be tricky endeavors. Continue as before and you risk tedium; stray too far from the formula, and you might upset the fanbase. The good news with Despicable Me 4 (the sixth in the series, including two Minions spin-offs) is that intriguing new characters, settings and situations help keep the anti-villain antics engaging.

Pitted against Gru (Steve Carrell) this time is Maxime Le Mal, a blast from the supervillain-turned-secret agent’s crooked past. Voiced by Will Ferrell, Le Mal has the technology to turn anyone into a superpowered cockroach (including himself). 

When this flamboyant foe escapes incarceration, he comes looking for revenge on his former school rival, forcing Gru and family (including new baby Gru Jr) into witness protection. They briskly relocate to an Anti-Villain League safe house in upmarket suburbia and attempt to blend in. What ensues is a series of funny, if predictable, character clashes, principally between Gru and stuck-up, country-club-loving neighbor Perry (Stephen Colbert) and his wannabe-supervillain teen daughter Poppy (Joey King). 

However, it’s the bona-fide baddies who frequently steal the formulaic-but-fun show here. A Terminator 2-inspired supermarket chase involving a fearsome Cruella–esque vengeance-seeker amuses, as does a castle heist featuring an equally enraged wheelchair-bound crone. Yet these adrenalized antics are somehow upstaged by the side exploits of five augmented Mega-Minions, who blunderingly attempt to become superheroes. 

Series veteran Chris Renaud (who co-directs with Despicable Me lead animator Patrick Delage) ensures that there’s nostalgic value for older generations, notably in the surprisingly heartfelt, Tears for Fears-soundtracked finale. The addition of the cunning Gru Jr proves a deft move, too; the father/son, bonding/tormenting scenes bring a fresh (and at times touching) dynamic to proceedings.

Despicable Me 4 is released in US theaters on July 3 and in UK cinemas on July 12. 

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