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DESPICABLE ME 4

14 YEARS ON, THE MINIONS STILL RULE FAMILY FILMS

SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Chris Dos Santos
16th June 2024

The 'Despicable Me' franchise is one of the largest media franchises of all time. With US$4.64 billion taken at the global box office and an estimated additional US$6 billion in merchandise, this franchise won't slow down. For the last 14 years, Gru and his minions have just taken over children's lives. The last main series title was released in 2017, while we had 'Minions: The Rise of Gru' in 2022, we are finally back with Gru and his family.

'Despicable Me 4' sees us reunite with Gru (Steve Carell, 'IF', 'Asteroid City') and Lucy (Kristen Wiig, 'Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar', 'Wonder Woman 1984'), who have just welcomed their first child, Gru Jr. They are still raising Gru's adopted daughters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove, Nickelodeon's 'iCarly'), Edith (Dana Gaier, 'Despicable Me' franchise) and Agnes (Madison Skyy Polan in her debut) of course with help from those banana-loving Minions (Pierre Coffin). A new cockroach-loving villain, Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell, 'Barbie', 'Strays'), who was imprisoned by Gru but escaped and is seeking revenge. The Anti-Villain League relocates Gru and his family for safety while also taking the rest of Gru's minions to work at the league. Here a select few are transformed into Mega Minions, a new superhero team.

SWITCH: 'DESPICABLE ME 4' TRAILER 2

This is the sixth film in this franchise, and at this point you know if this is for you or not. The fourth main series entry doesn't really do anything new, and that's not to say it's bad, it's just expected. As noted above, these characters are money-making machines, the merchandise sales alone keep this franchise afloat and a new entry's purpose is truly just to refresh toy aisles.

That said, this is huge step up from 'Despicable Me 3'. The jokes are funny, the family is more a focus, and its story is much more streamlined. The Minions, while overused in pop culture, are funny here - and I hate to admit just how much I laughed here. The same issues apply for a franchise running this long; nothing really matters, the status quo doesn't change, even the cliffhanger from the last film, Gru's brother Dru running off with Minions, Dru isn't even in this film. Even the Mega Minions have little to do in the context of the film.

If your kids love these characters, they are sure to have a delightful time. It's a perfect kid's film. Being the first film back with the whole family I wish they had more focus, especially with the ending to this one; it felt like they were trying to somewhat wrap this franchise up. A lot of the previous entries' villains' cameo at the end, but the rest of the film doesn't really build to final chapter. However, I think Illumination can see the writing on the wall, and this can't last forever. They also add in a new character, Poppy Prescott (Joey King, 'Bullet Train', Netflix's 'The Kissing Booth') whose only purpose is to go on one heist with Gru, and it felt unnecessary to add another teenage girl character when this easily could have been one of his daughters and served as a bonding moment.

If your kids love these characters, they are sure to have a delightful time. It's a perfect kid's film.

14 years on, you either love the 'Despicable Me' franchise or hate it. Not every animated film has to push the boundaries of the medium, and at the end of the day 'Despicable Me 4' is a pure kid's film, with its only goal to make them enjoy it, and it more than succeeds. I can sit here and pick it apart but I'm not the demographic. I laughed at the silly little jokes and left the cinema happy, and that's more than I can say for a lot of films lately. For these school holidays, 'Despicable Me 4' is a sure-fire safe fun bet for families - and that's truly all it has to be.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 20/06/2024
CAST: Steve Carell
Kristen Wiig
Miranda Cosgrove
Steve Coogan
Pierre Coffin
DIRECTOR: Chris Renaud
WRITER: Mike White
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