Something interesting happens when you sit down to watch all of Illumination Entertainment’s feature films; you start to notice peculiar trends appearing. Some of these trends are good, like the studio’s polished and consistent animation, the insane amounts of creativity on display, and the sense that these movies exist in modern version of a classic, slapstick cartoon world. However, some of the trends are not so great, like an over-reliance on gibberish and potty humor, the desire to force contemporary pop songs into the narrative, and a strange (and dark) violent streak that has one questioning just how kid-friendly some of these films really are.
Taking those trends into consideration, I’ve ranked the Illumination Entertainment films from Worst to Best. Your personal rankings and those of other fans and critics might not match up, and my list certainly won’t fall into step with the studio’s best box office performers, but at the very least I think there’s a clear line between their best work and their not-so-great efforts here. I found some surprises (and some disappointments) along the way, but perhaps least surprising (and most disappointing) of all is that Illumination Entertainment looks to be ditching any original ideas for a slate of sequels and adaptations from now until 2020 at the earliest. While this is surely a play for easy box office wins, it’s an unfortunate lean to one extreme since the studio’s best efforts began with rich, original ideas.
Here’s a look at the upcoming calendar of Illumination Entertainment films as they currently exist:
- Despicable Me 3 – June 30, 2017
- Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch - November 9, 2018
- The Secret Life of Pets 2 – July 3, 2019
- Minions 2 – July 3, 2020
- Sing 2 – December 25, 2020
- Four untitled films are, as of now, marked for July 2021, July 2022, December 2022, and June 2023 releases.
Now, here’s how the studio’s current films stack up, from worst to first: