Illumination Entertainment Animated Movies Ranked

5. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012)

Illumination Entertainment The Lorax

Budget: $70million
Worldwide Box Office: $349million
Starring: Zac Efron, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift, Ed Helms, Betty White, Rob Riggle, Jenny Slate

Following the atrocities of the live-action Dr. Seuss adaptation The Cat in the Hat (2003), the Dr. Seuss estate vowed to never let another live-action movie version of the author’s famous novels be released again. As such, the rights to the stories were farmed out to various animation studios with Illumination nabbing the rights to “The Lorax”, which they released in 2012 to divided opinion.

The Lorax featured the kind of message that Dr. Seuss’ stories have become iconic for, with the allegory for this film being the destruction of habitats and the effects of global warming, and it certainly didn’t fail on the levels of many other Seuss adaptations. Even so, the fact remained that this was an adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ magnum opus, his best and “most Seuss” release, and anything short of spectacular was always going to feel a little underwhelming. Unfortunately, The Lorax wasn’t anything more than good, with its crisp and creative animation being praiseworthy but its handling of the material rubbing some people the wrong way.

With more sub-text than your average Illumination film, and with its fair share of memorable and noteworthy moments, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is still leaps and bounds beyond those that have come before it in this list.

4. The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

Illumination Entertainment Secret Life of Pets

Budget: $75million
Worldwide Box Office: $875million
Starring: Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Lake Bell, Ellie Kemper, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, Chris Renaud, Steve Coogan

If Sing was a movie made by committee, so was The Secret Life of Pets. The difference is that The Secret Life of Pets had enough personality to earn its status as an enjoyable, quotable, fun animation about the silly little creatures we invite into our homes.

The talents of Kevin Hart and Jenny Slate (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) at the head of the voice cast were most praiseworthy for bringing life, energy and at times heartfelt emotion to the piece, and it’s arguable that The Secret Life of Pets was perhaps the most pure and emotional of Illumination’s releases outside of their Despicable Me franchise.

This was one of those movies you expected cute animals and easy jokes from, but what resulted was actually much more than that.

3. Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Illumination Entertainment Despicable Me 2

Budget: $76million
Worldwide Box Office: $971million
Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud, Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Benjamin Bratt, Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, Ken Jeong, Kristen Schaal, Vanessa Bayer

About as good of an animated sequel as you can get, Despicable Me 2 not only offered more of what people loved about the first one – notably Minions – but also offered a little more information on the characters that populated the original and made it such a breakout hit.

Featuring the same level of great, modern movie animation on offer in the original and pushing home some of that movie’s key values regarding friendship and family, Despicable Me 2 is a faithful sequel worthy of its own praise.

With Despicable Me 2, Illumination expanded upon the successes of their first Despicable Me movie and looked set to change the animation game forever. While that has yet to pass in terms of critical accolades, their relative success at the box office and the crossover appeal of its creations, have ensured that Illumination’s place at the table of big animation studios is guaranteed.

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