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Despicable Me 4 offers nothing new but delivers enough laughs for the family

Steve Carrell, the iconic voice of Gru, reunites with director Chris Renaud for Universal Pictures' 'Despicable Me 4'.  This sixth installment in the  franchise, penned by  Mike White and Ken Daurio, promises to continue the legacy of the series.

In the preceding narrative, Gru embarked on a journey of romantic involvement with Lucy (portrayed by Kristen Wiig) and ventured into a new phase of life with their offspring, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Madison Polan). Recent developments have seen the family unit not just grow, but expand to accommodate a new member, Gru Jr., passionate about engaging in mischievous activities mainly aimed at his dad.

The most recent installment commences with Gru's attendance at his high school reunion, during which he encounters Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell), his former adversary and the latter's enigmatic paramour, Valentina (Sofia Vergara). Predictably, Maxime retains animosity towards Gru, precipitating a sequence of events compelling Gru and his kin to assume a clandestine existence.

As the story unfolds, we are delighted to see the return of beloved characters such as the Minions (Pierre Coffin) and Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). Their familiar presence brings a sense of nostalgia and excitement. But that's not all. We are also introduced to new faces: Poppy Prescott (Joey King), an aspiring supervillain who greatly admires Gru, as well as her parents Perry (Stephen Colbert) and Patsy Prescott (Chloe Fineman).

It's often hard to believe that the "Despicable Me" series is the highest-grossing animated film franchise. The first film hit theaters the same summer as "Toy Story 3" and quickly won over audiences, particularly the scene-stealing minions. So, for fourteen years, does the franchise still hold up?

The individuals responsible for the production adhere predominantly to the established formula that has proven successful in previous franchise installments. Steve Carell consistently portrays Gru with his characteristic, humorous, indistinct Eastern European inflection. The returning cast, including the commendable voiceover performances, demonstrates a genuine commitment to their roles, earning our appreciation and respect.

Regarding the new cast additions, Joey King seamlessly embodies the role of a teenager aspiring to be a villain. However, I found Will Ferrell's French accent in the role of Maxime to be rather forced and lacking authenticity. Sofia Vergara's portrayal of Valentina also felt somewhat typecast and lacking in originality.

Nevertheless, the most lost in the film arrive from the minions. I commend the filmmakers for spilling the minions up. While Phil, Ron, and Ralph have traveled with the family within the witness protection program, the other minions stay with Silas, and some even get superpowers. In both instances, they garner chuckles with their physical antics, magnified emotions, and funny catchphrases.

I will admit that those looking for anything new to the story may want to wait for the streaming; however, fans will find something to enjoy with the glorious animation and harmless laughs for ninety minutes.

Final Grade: B-

"Despicable Me 4" is in theaters now


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