Illumination was just a scrappy underdog animation studio until they came up with the first Despicable Me movie — then they became superstars with enough clout to court clients like Nintendo. But hits on that level are hard to reach twice….thus the sequels. Since none of you paid to see Migration last December, they have no choice but to trot Gru out again for a fourth Despicable Me later this year.
The thing about this story is that it has the same problem Ice Age, Shrek and other franchises did when they made their first movie assuming it would be a one-and-done. In Ice Age, the woolly mammoth is the last of his kind. In Ice Age 2, he finds more like him. And then there are 500 more sequels where the mammoth has to find something to do after he’s already attained his life goal and completed his character arc. He has to go through the motions because the audience isn’t really there for the mammoth — they’re coming back to see the saber-toothed squirrel get banged up while chasing a nut again.
Gru, similarly, had his character arc complete itself within his first movie. He ends that film considerably less despicable. And now that he’s a family man, just like Ray Romano Mammoth, he has little to do other than get beat up and humiliated, because the audience isn’t paying to see HIM — they want more of the yellow babbling Minions, the real stars of these things.
So this time the plot is two accomplices from Gru’s past, who he screwed over, have busted free from prison and are out for revenge. Since he has a lot to lose now — including a new baby — he’s put into a Witness Protection House that for some reason has a candy bar vending machine. The reason it’s there is so the Minions can get stuck in it and have antics trying to get out, so just accept it.