The experience of watching "Despicable Me 4″ is a Kafkaesque nightmare, and not only because one of the main characters turns himself into a roach.

The film is an interminable 95 minutes of circular, intertwining, seemingly never-ending story lines rendered with such audio-visual cacophony that it dissolves into an indiscernible din. This fourth installment of the inexplicably popular animated franchise featuring those dreaded Minions has all the charm of an ocular migraine, but small children did rush to dance in front of the screen during the end credits, so what do I know?

Directed by longtime Minion wrangler Chris Renaud, with Patrick Delage, "Despicable Me 4″ naturally centers on Gru (Steve Carell), the proud supervillain with toothpick legs, a barrel chest and an army of banana-obsessed Minions (voiced by French madman Pierre Coffin). He has now settled down with a cute wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), four kids and a pet goat, and even works for the Anti-Villain League.

This line of work intrudes on his domestic bliss when he nabs an old classmate on behalf of the AVL at the Lycee Pas Bon (School of Villainy) reunion, and earns himself an enemy in the process.

Gru's old high school rival Maxime (Will Ferrell) is the aforementioned Roach Man (they really are running out of supervillains) because he wants to harness the power of the cockroach for world domination or what have you. Upon his receipt of a coveted alumni award, Gru apprehends Maxime on behalf of the AVL, humiliating him. Maxime swears vengeance on Gru, and when he escapes from prison, Gru and his family have to go into witness protection in the town of Mayflower.

It's a tortured setup to launch this fish-out-of-water comedy wherein Gru and his family have to pretend to be normal.

Gru is now "Chet," obsessed with tennis to impress his preppy neighbors the Prestons (Stephen Colbert and Chloe Fineman), and Lucy is now "Blanche," a hairstylist. Random family high jinks ensue in what is essentially several short film ideas mashed into feature length. It's all well-meaning enough, but it feels like screenwriters Ken Daurio and Mike White throwing random ideas at the wall without much thought into how or why it might all fit together. The kiddie audience won't care, so why should they?

Back at the AVL headquarters, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan) has put of a bunch of Minions in a toaster, which is to say that he's injected them with super serum to make the X-Minions, or "Mega-Minions" as he calls them, with their powers borrowed from Marvel superheroes the Fantastic Four (there's a rock Minion, a stretchy Minion, a big Minion, a flying Minion, etc.).

It's a bizarre mashup of Bond and mutant superhero tropes, and it's unclear exactly what it's doing here except to add another subplot.

There is something weirdly — and undeniably — charming about the character of Gru, which is why they must keep making these. Those Minions certainly do have moxie, and the silly, quasi-naughty humor and style apparently acts as a chemical stimulant for children.

But this installment is so noisy and aimless, it feels like they didn't just hit the end of the road, they kept going past the limit. One can only hope that Gru finally embraces domesticity over being despicable so we can all finally enjoy some peace and quiet.

'Despicable Me 4′

1 star out of 4

Rated: PG for action and rude humor.

Where: In theaters.