It is hard to believe that the lovable adventures of an animated villain and his yellow creatured minions has now provided enough storylines for 6 feature films, a TV series and an unlimited amount of short films – but that is exactly what Gru (voiced by Steve Carrell 40 Year Old Virgin) and his Minions have managed to achieve.

Actually together they have done a lot more than that because the Despicable Me franchise is nearly single-handedly responsible for the rise of one of the most active animated studios in the world right now – Illumination.

The other major feature of this franchise is the fact that there has never been a bad film in either the Despicable Me franchise or its spin-off Minions. Each time a new film surfaces it is embraced by lovers of the franchise and film critics alike – and the result is stars like Carrell continuing on with their roles despite occasionally hinting that the next film might be their last.

Despicable Me 4 virtually sees the full turn-around of Gru. From a lonely super-villain in the beginning through to now where we find Gru an Agent charged at bring down villians who also happens to be married to Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig – Bridesmaids) and is the father of three adopted daughters, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove – School Of Rock), Edith (Dana Gaier – 30 Rock) and Agnes (Madison Skyy Polan – Midnight Mission).

Now there is a fourth child added to Gru and Lucy’s tribe with the birth of Gru Jnr, whom Gru is madly trying to bond with, and once again they all find themselves in trouble when super-villain Maxime Le Mal (Will Ferrell – Blades Of Glory) breaks out of prison and swears revenge on the man who put him there – Gru.

As Maxine and his girlfriend Valentina (Sofia Vergara – Modern Family) hunt them Gru and his family are placed in witness protection. But trying to fit into a rich suburb is proving difficult and is made even harder when a bratty teenager named Poppy (Joey King – Bullet Train) blackmails Gru into doing a heist with her.

As usual Despicable Me 4 is an absolute pleasure to sit down and watch. This is the kind of film that can be enjoyed by all family members of any age largely due to the amazing work of director Chris Renaud (The Secret Life Of Pets) and his screenwriters Ken Daurio (Horton Hears A Who!) and Mike White (Orange County) who have made sure that every aspect of this movies works.

As you would expect from a film made by Illumination the film looks great with a modern style of animation that still manages to mirror the original look and feel of the franchise – but what makes this film even more special is the screenplay itself.

From scenes emulating films like The Fast And The Furious through to the James Bond feel you get from characters like Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan – Philomena) no matter what the writers try here it works sensationally well. Even the fact that the writers can mix so many storylines together – the villains, Gru trying to be Dad, him being blackmailed by Poppy and then whatever the Minions are doing at different times shows other franchises how to deliver the perfect animated film.

But perhaps what works the best here is the fact that the writers are not afraid to use all aspects of humour to make this work. From the slapstick comedy that you see that always results in Gru getting hurt through to way Gru Jnr interacts with his father is priceless… and I am willing to admit that one scene between Gru Jnr and Gru made me laugh so loud that I even scared myself.

Once again a Despicable Me movie shows the way when it comes to animation. The story here refreshes this brilliant franchise without doing any disrespect to the films that have come before it. This isn’t just a film that is going to be loved by the whole family it is one of the funniest films of the year.

4/5 Stars