Every Illumination Film, Ranked According To Rotten Tomatoes
Illumination released the highly-anticipated The Super Mario Bros. Movie in April 2023. Since Illumination’s founding in 2017, the company has released 13 feature films, including the incredibly popular Despicable Me franchise and various adaptations of Dr. Seuss’s famous books.
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Compared to other animation studios, like Pixar or DreamWorks Animation, Illumination has a small catalog of films. However, the studio’s movies are typically box office hits. From the Sing movies to Super Mario Bros. to Minions, Illumination’s films have varying ratings on Rotten Tomatoes.
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13 Hop (2011) – 24%
2011’s Hop is a strange anomaly in Illuminations’ filmography, as it’s the only Illumination movie that features live-action performances. The live-action cast includes James Marsden, Kaley Cuoco, and Gary Cole. Hop follows a young bunny named E.B., who is set to take over from his father as the next Easter Bunny, but he’d rather be a musician.
Along the way, James Marsden’s Fred takes E.B. in and helps E.B. follow his dream to be a drummer. Unfortunately, Hop did not win over critics. While James Marsden brings plenty of charisma to the film, the script was lacking.
12 The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023) – 54%
Sporting an impressive voice cast of A-list celebrities, The Super Mario Bros. Movie brings one of the most iconic video game characters in history back to the big screen. The film follows Mario and Luigi as they head to the Mushroom Kingdom just in time to stop Bowser from destroying it all.
As one of Nintendo’s best franchises, all eyes were on The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Sadly, the 2023 movie has only earned a middling rating on Rotten Tomatoes. This may be one of Illumination’s most stunning-looking films, but the script problems that have plagued the studio for years are present in this hotly-anticipated video game adaptation.
11 Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012) – 54%
Based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same name, The Lorax is set in Thneedville, a city that has no fresh air because there are no trees. The Once-ler cut down all the trees and ignored the Lorax’s warnings, who speaks for the trees. Now, a young boy named Ted Wiggins has to find a way to revitalize the forest.
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Many critics felt The Lorax lost the moral of Dr. Seuss’s original story. The film is cute, wholesome, humorous, but the simplicity of the original story gets lost in the Hollywood production. Most critics agree that the stacked voice cast – which includes Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, and Ed Helms – and the gorgeous animation were highlights of The Lorax.
10 Minions (2015) – 55%
Spinning out of the popular Despicable Me franchise, Minions tells the origin story of the popular Minion characters that have become the mascot for the franchise. Before the Minions found Gru, he worked with some of the greatest villains in the world, going all the way back to the dinosaurs.
Although Minions offered fans more of the franchise’s signature humor and eccentric, lovable characters, the plot was uneven. Minions felt more like a cashgrab, but it’s still entertaining for the younger viewers.
9 Despicable Me 3 (2017) – 59%
The third film in Illumination’s flagship franchise, Despicable Me 3 introduces Gru’s long-lost twin brother, Dru. While he’s not quite as mean as Gru, he still tries hard to be a villain. Gru’s newfound family seemingly lure him away from his life as a spy, and Dru provides plenty of obstacles.
While Despicable Me 3 is not as strong as the first two installments, there’s plenty here for fans of the franchise. The humor doesn’t always land, and it feels like the franchise is starting to wear a bit thin, but Despicable Me 3 will still keep kids entertained.
8 Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018) – 59%
Based on Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas! book, Illumination’s The Grinch gives fans a fresh take on the story. The 2018 movie follows the Grinch, who doesn’t like Christmas and wants to find a way for others to feel his misery. While this is happening, a young Who wants to talk to Santa and ask him to help her struggling single mother.
Critics described The Grinch as warm, bright, fun, and witty. Although it may not come close to the original, The Grinch offers adults some nostalgia and enough holiday fun for the whole family.
7 The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) – 60%
With the success of The Secret Life of Pets, it’s only natural that Illumination would follow it up with The Secret Life of Pets 2. In the sequel, Max goes to a farm with his family to get away from the city where he meets an English Sheepdog, Rooster. While Max is on the farm, the pets in the city are dealing with other problems. Snowball and Daisy attempt to rescue white tiger Hu, which sends the evil Sergei after them.
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Secret Life of Pets 2 follows too many plot threads and can sometimes feel overwhelming. Still, fans of the original’s wacky characters and solid voice cast will enjoy the sequel.
6 Minions: The Rise Of Gru (2022) – 70%
Minions: The Rise of Gru follows Gru’s early years. As a young child, Gru found the Minions and put them to work helping him become the next big villain. When Gru hears that the Vicious Six needs a new member, he tries out for the team. However, he’s unsuccessful, so he steals a powerful artifact from them and entrusts it to the minions, which was a huge mistake.
The fifth entry in the Despicable Me franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru was hugely successful. With a catchy soundtrack, solid animation, and some surprisingly good humor, The Rise of Gru will delight both kids and adults.
5 Sing (2016) – 71%
Sing introduces audiences to a world of singing animals. Having fallen on hard times, Buster Moon, a koala, enacts a plan that will hopefully save his failing theater. He plans to hold a singing competition to find some of the best singers around. Each contestant has to prove they have what it takes to win the $100,000 prize.
There’s nothing new here, but Sing has a lot of heart and can appeal to all ages. The impressive voice cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Reece Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, and Nick Offerman. Sing’s gorgeous animation complements the fun musical numbers.
4 Sing 2 (2021) – 72%
Sing 2 brings the contestants from the first Sing film to an even bigger stage and bigger challenge. Now, they have to put on a great Vegas act that will allow them to get the break of a lifetime. However, things don’t go smoothly for the cast, as they start to buckle under the pressure.
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A solid formula has the potential to work twice, which is exactly what happened with Sing 2. Even though the stakes are higher this time around, Sing 2 follows many of the same beats. It’s an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” situation with this sequel.
3 The Secret Life Of Pets (2016) – 72%
When The Secret Life of Pets introduces Max, he’s a spoiled pet who’s blessed with a loving owner and caring friends from all over the neighborhood. However, when a new dog comes into Max’s life, things begin to get out of hand. Max then has to learn to adapt to a new dynamic.
The Secret Life of Pets is a fun, entertaining, and charming movie. The movie sports impressive animation and a solid voice cast, including Kevin Hart, Steve Coogan, Lake Bell, and Eric Stonestreet. Even those who hate dog movies can enjoy The Secret Life of Pets.
2 Despicable Me 2 (2013) – 75%
After Gru learns how to be a dad in Despicable Me, he wants to be the best father he can be in the sequel. However, he’s struggling to balance his responsibilities to his girls with his work in the Anti-Villain League. Things get even more complicated when the league sends Gru to take down the person who’s taken his role as a villain.
Despicable Me 2 isn’t as strong as the first film but still offers fans colorful animation and plenty of fun. The Minions get more screentime and are hilarious additions to the sequel, and Gru’s attempts to be a better father helps Despicable Me 2 appeal to adult audiences, too.
1 Despicable Me (2010) – 80%
Despicable Me introduced fans to Gru, a struggling villain who has to put up with three little girls. Throughout the movie, an unknown villain keeps thwarting Gru’s plans, much to his annoyance. While Gru has to deal with that, he begins to learn that fatherhood might be more rewarding than villainy.
Despicable Me also introduced audiences to the cute yellow minions, who later starred in their own movie. Critics and audiences found a lot to love in Illumination’s first movie, as Despicable Me was amusing and heartwarming.
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