Despicable Me

2010, Illumination Entertainment

An evil mastermind with a heart of gold is nothing new, but in the hands of Sergio Pablos it acquired a fresh new appeal. Also, Steve Carell's performance gave Gru charming humanity. Then of course there were the Minions... The unique look of the film was most likely due to it being animated at a French studio, which was subsequently acquired by Illumination Entertainment. The film works brilliantly on every level, and earned the tidy sum of a half-billion dollars while it cost only $70 million to make.

       

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Despicable Me 2

2013, Illumination Entertainment

Much as Pixar's sequels had done repeatedly, Despicable Me 2 proved to be every bit as good as the first. Predictably, the Minions were featured more prominently, seemingly in a bid to ensure its hit status. Ultimately the numbers speak for themselves: nearly a billion dollars in tickets against a budget of $75 million.

       

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Minions

2015, Illumination Entertainment

On the faulty premise that more of a popular thing is better, Despicable Me's Minions were given their own film. Unfortunately, despite their sly cuteness and infectious giggle, they simply couldn't hold our interest for an hour and a half... well, let me qualify that: they couldn't keep most adults entertained—the film still moved well over a billion dollars' worth of tickets, while costing only $75 million, so clearly they had this thing figured out. What do I know?

One word: Banana!

     

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Minions

2017, Illumination Entertainment

Once more we return to a successful formula to milk the franchise for all its worth. The result isn't up to the standards of prior installments, but it's not at all a bad way to spend an hour and a half. Steve Carell's dual role is surprisingly effective, and there are a few good moments between him and his twin. Obviously the franchise's fans were satisfied enough to gobble up over a billion bucks in tickets against an $80 million budget—making it the fourth-highest grossing film of 2017 and the fourth-highest grossing animated film to date.

     

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