10 Best Movies From Illumination Studios, According to Letterboxd

Illumination Studios has provided audiences with some of the most prolific and successful family movies of the past few years, with plenty of their stories spawning a wide range of sequels and spin-offs. The studio's most recent project, Minions: The Rise of Gru, is currently entertaining audiences in theaters worldwide.

As with any studio, users on Letterboxd are very vocal about which Illumination films they believe to be the best. Whilst there's a fair amount of disagreement amongst users, the site's average rating system makes it very clear which of the studio's movies has the strongest fanbase.


10 Minions (2015) - 2.6

Although it's still a fairly entertaining movie with lots of great jokes for younger audiences, Minions doesn't really live up to the reputation of its source material. There's no denying that the minions themselves have become one of the most recognizable fictional characters ever put to screen, but their solo movie wasn't quite as popular as expected.

Many Letterboxd users agree that the film's main problem (alongside an over-reliance on immature jokes and repetitive gags) is the absence of Gru, the protagonist of the Despicable Me franchise. If anything, Minions proved that the series doesn't really work without him.

9 The Secret Life Of Pets 2 (2019) - 2.7

The story of Max and Duke continues in The Secret Life Of Pets 2, though many audiences will agree that this sequel isn't quite as focused or engaging as the original. It features plenty of funny jokes and entertaining characters, but the overall narrative doesn't quite hold up.

That being said, the film was still a huge hit with younger audiences thanks to the constant flood of jokes and gags that keep the story fresh. It might not be as original and inventive as some of Illumination's other properties, but it's a fun time nonetheless.

8 The Secret Life Of Pets (2016) - 2.8

Chloe, Max, and Mel looking confused in The Secret Life Of Pets (2016)

Only just edging ahead of its sequel, The Secret Life Of Pets was one of the first films from Illumination Studios that proved they were capable of more than just minions and cheap jokes. It's a completely original film, telling the story of two pet dogs who learn to love each other in the face of danger from the outside world.

The film was also one of Illumination's most commercially successful outings at the box office, which is hardly a surprise since it was one of the most talked-about kids' films of that year. The Secret Life Of Pets might not have bloomed into the successful franchise some of Illumination's other projects have, but it remains one of the studio's finest films.

7 The Grinch (2018) - 2.8

2018's The Grinch wasn't Illumination's first attempt at adapting the works of Dr. Seuss, but it did prove that they know exactly how to capture the author's unique style. Full of bright colors and bold characters, The Grinch is a great holiday movie for younger audiences.

Voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, The Grinch is one of Illumination's most entertaining and unique protagonists thus far. The actor really brings this character to life in a way that's reminiscent of - while distinctly different from - Jim Carrey's portrayal in the live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

6 The Lorax (2012) - 2.9

Illumination Studios' first entry into the wild world of Dr. Seuss came in 2012, with the release of The Lorax. Much like the original story, the film tells the story of one boy's adventures through a magical world with the assistance of a nature-loving creature called the Lorax.

Despite just being a children's movie, The Lorax displays an incredibly effective "fight for the environment" message that rivals even some of the most popular eco-friendly narratives put to film. It's an extremely important message that undoubtedly introduced many audiences to our planet's ecological crisis at a very early age.

5 Sing (2016) - 3.0

Although it's the kind of film that will easily grate on older audiences' nerves, there's no denying that Sing will always be a huge hit with children thanks to its eccentric cast and inexplicably catchy music. It might not boast the most complex or mature narrative, but it's the kind of film that kids can easily watch over and over again.

One of the things often praised about Sing is the movie musical's unique character designs, with plenty of eccentric animals and bold personalities that really bring this fairly formulaic story to life in a fun way. It's easy to see why this exciting, inspirational story resonated so strongly with the younger generation.

4 Despicable Me 2 (2013) - 3.0

Gru and Lucy's wedding in Despicable Me 2

Although Letterboxd users clearly don't rate Despicable Me 2 as highly as its predecessor, it's still a great family film that builds upon Gru's existing story in an insightful and funny way. It also introduces a few new characters, including Kristen Wiig's Lucy and Benjamin Bratt's El Macho.

As with any good sequel, Despicable Me 2 raises the stakes much higher than they were in the first film, introducing new villains and subplots that keep the audience engaged at every turn. It also focuses a lot more on the central family dynamic, which is a heartwarming touch that even older audiences will enjoy.

3 Despicable Me (2010) - 3.4

Despicable Me Gru and Minions

Undeniably Illumination Studios' most internationally-popular property to date, Despicable Me tells the story of a supervillain named Gru who attempts to steal the moon with the assistance of an army of yellow 'minions'. The film spawned a wave of sequels and spin-offs, with the fourth main film currently in development.

Steve Carell's vocal performance as Gru is one of the funniest and most entertaining performances in any family film in recent memory. He utilizes his comedic timing perfectly, elevating the film way beyond what's written on the page. It's impossible to imagine Despicable Me without Carell's presence at its heart.

2 Sing 2 (2021) - 3.5

Rosita and Gunter sing "Break Free" in Sing 2.

Despite the original film's inability to cater to older audiences, Sing 2 manages to sacrifice its immature comedy in favor of a more engaging, funny, and heartwarming story that everybody will be able to relate to. It's much less rushed and repetitive, which makes the film stand out as one of Illumination Studios' best.

Sing 2 is full of likable characters, whether that's the returning cast from the original movie or the sequel's many new additions, all of which bring something new to the table. It's for this reason that Letterboxd users have collected rated Sing 2 so highly.

1 Minions: The Rise Of Gru (2022) - 3.6

The film might only have been out for a matter of weeks, but Minions: The Rise Of Gru is already shaping up to be one of Illumination's most successful films to date. In addition to its positive box office performance and widespread acclaim from various audiences, the Minions sequel has also taken the internet by storm.

Plenty of internet users, including those on Letterboxd, are praising the film for its inventive comedy and lighthearted story, which keeps things entertaining throughout. It might not be the most highbrow piece of cinema, but that's exactly why so many people are loving it.

NEXT: 10 Best Movies Like Minions: The Rise Of Gru

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About The Author Jack Walters (133 Articles Published)

At Screenrant, Jack is a Lists Writer with a focus on the newest trends in film and television. Elsewhere, you can find his thoughts on the latest movies at his various outlets: linktr.ee/jwalters204

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