On Screen: “Despicable Me 4”

Despicable Me 4

Moviegoers love those Minions — or was it the lure of air conditioning — that made the family comedy “Despicable Me 4” top the Fourth of July weekend with an estimated five-day domestic box office of $122.6 million at 4,428 theaters — making this the top-grossing animated franchise of all time.

This time Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) — the reformed supervillain turned Anti-Villain League agent — launches more Minion mayhem as he, his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and their adopted daughters (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Madison Skyy Polan) welcome Gru Jr. (Tara Strong), an infant who rejects Gru’s paternal attention.

They face off with a new nemesis, cockroach-obsessed Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell). Gru and snooty Maxime first met when they were students at Lycee Pas Bos, a French boarding school for aspiring bad guys. When they attend a reunion at their alma mater, antagonism surfaces as old tensions erupt.

It seems that — before Maxime and his femme fatale girlfriend Valentina (Sofia Vergara) escaped from the Anti-Villain League’s maximum-security prison — he recorded a video message vowing to “exterminate” Gru.

So AVI’s concerned boss Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), following witness protection protocols, relocates the entire Gru brood to tranquil suburban Mayflower, giving them new identities — which Gru calls “high-stakes pretending.”

Discarding his usual scarf and dark attire, Gru plays a part-time solar power salesman and stay-at-home dad, while Lucy becomes a high-class beautician, working in an elite salon on Main Street.

As part of his mission, Gru’s needs to befriend his country club next-door neighbors: Perry (Stephen Colbert), Patsy (Chloe Fineman) and their larcenous teenage daughter Poppy Prescott (Joey King).

Last but not least, Silas enlists the little yellow Minions (vocalizing Pierre Coffin’s gibberish) to train as AVI agents and, during the final credits, one of the Mega Minions mutates into a superhero.

Directed by Chris Renaud and Patrick Delage from a script by Mike White and Ken Daurio, it’s familiar fare, studded with zany visual gags that invariably elicit laughs from the little ones.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, “Despicable Me 4” is a silly 6, playing in air conditioned theaters.


Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures. Her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M.

As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O’Brien, and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism.

During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie and drama critic, syndicating her reviews and articles around the world, including Video Librarian. She has appeared on American Movie Classics and Turner Classic Movies. In 2017, her book 150 Timeless Movies was published by Hannacroix Creek Books. Her website is www.susangranger.com.

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