The original Despicable Me movie received incredible reviews back in 2010, and as people get to see the fifth installment from Illumination, the same CGI animation company behind the Ice Age movies, now is a good time to consider which is the best Despicable Me movie and which were the worst. The films center around Gru (Steve Carell), a supervillain-turned-caring-family-man, and his faithful Minions as they navigate a world of crime. While the franchise has brought in a combined box office total of over $3.7 billion over the years, each individual movie has received a mixed bag of reviews from critics and fans alike. Regardless, the franchise surpassed the Shrek movies as the most successful animated series of all time after Despicable Me 3 came out in 2017.
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In addition to The Office’s Steve Carell, the movies have featured other legends from the silver screen and small screen, including Julie Andrews as Marlena Gru, Sandra Bullock as Scarlet Overkill, and Kristen Wiig as Miss Hattie and Lucy Wilde. Though Gru prided himself on being a rough and tough supervillain in Despicable Me, by the end of the first movie he found himself in the position of being a father-like figure to three young girls, Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher), who ultimately made him realize that being a supportive father was what was most important to him in future movies. Although the villains included in each movie have changed with every entry, the large cast of Minion characters has persisted throughout.
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None of the Despicable Me movies have flopped, but some have certainly fared better than others. Save for a slight regression during opening weekend at the box office for Despicable Me 3 (2017), each movie has brought in more money domestically, and internationally. But money isn’t everything in determining which movies were the most well-received, and with Minions: The Rise of Gru now released, now is the perfect time to rank the franchise. Here is the best Despicable Me movie, the worst, and everything in-between.
5. Minions (2015)
The cute yellow Minions may have gotten their own movie because they stole audiences’ hearts in the first two Despicable Me movies, but Minions went a little too far. With the lowest Rotten Tomatoes rating of the franchise, the Minions movie proved that the little guys function better as little morsels of comic relief, not the main characters of a full-length film. To its credit, Minions was on Netflix’s top 25 movies in 2021, but the slapstick humor got old really fast and the film just ran out of steam. However, given that the movie brought in over $1.1 billion at the worldwide box office, it seems that Minions must have resonated with younger viewers with its often nonsensical jokes. There’s no doubt that Despicable Me would not be what it is today without the Minions, but the movie often finds itself on lists that rank the worst films that made over a billion dollars. The creators tried to give the people what they wanted: more Minions, but Minions ended up being too much of a good thing.
4. Despicable Me 3 (2017)
While not the best Despicable Me movie, it’s certainly not the worst. Despicable Me 3 continued Gru’s storyline while introducing some interesting new characters, like his twin Dru, and the new villain, Trey Parker’s Balthazar. Returning to a similar formula that the two prior Despicable Me movies followed, Gru and Lucy start off by getting fired by the Anti-Villain League when Balthazar gets away. Gru’s whole family gets torn apart as his twin brother Dru walks back into his life. The movie jumps all over the place with some pretty wild ideas. It’s a lot to keep up with and digest, but this is where the Minions do their part well: they provide little snippets of comic relief to break up the otherwise hard-to-follow storyline. While opening weekend at the box office was not as successful as the previous two movies in the franchise, Despicable Me 3 did still bring in over $1 billion worldwide.
3. Minions: The Rise Of Gru (2022)
While not the best Despicable Me movie, Minions: The Rise of Gru is pretty far up on the list. After Minions bombed critically, the studio went on to make Despicable Me 3 and seem to have listened to many critics who thought Gru should be at the forefront of the franchise. While the Minions movie was a notable disappointment, its prequel, The Rise of Gru, reintroduced the better elements of both worlds. The prequel takes the story back to 1975 when an 11-year-old Gru is starting his ascent as a supervillain-in-training with the help/hindrance of his Minions. Gru is eventually targeted by a supervillain group known as the Vicious 6 after he’s able to steal the Zodiac Stone. The Minions must help Gru along the way while protecting him from the even-more-villainous Six. Minions: The Rise of Gru succeeded where Minions failed because Gru was at the center of the plot. While the Minions are certainly forces of cuteness and destruction in their own right, their antics weren’t enough to carry an entire movie, but the prequel saw greater success (both creatively and commercially) than its immediate forebear. It’s more forgettable and immaterial than the first two Despicable Me movies but remains a pacy, occasionally inspired installment. The Rise of Gru made $107 million at the box office for its opening weekend, totaling a whopping $548.2 million worldwide at the time of writing.
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2. Despicable Me (2010)
The original Despicable Me movie introduced a whole bizarre world to fans, the film is often ranked as one of the best animated movies of all time, and if it weren’t for the success of this first movie, the animated franchise may not have gone on to become the highest-grossing of its kind like it did when it surpassed Shrek in 2017. Gru goes through some enormous character growth during the movie, turning from a supervillain into a super-dad for his adopted daughters, Margo, Edith, and Agnes. The movie is able to seamlessly introduce the fascinating Minions in such a way that audiences don’t question them, they just accept them and laugh at them. Oftentimes the first movie in a series gets bogged down in explaining the complex world that has been created, but not Despicable Me. The film explains the world through showing, not telling, and it’s all the stronger for it.
1. Despicable Me 2 (2013)
While both movies are classics, Despicable Me 2 narrowly outdoes Despicable Me. The 2013 movie was among many sequels that year that outdid their originals at the box office. With Wonder Woman 2’s Kristen Wiig rejoining the franchise as Lucy and a story that allows the audience to get to know the girls a little better, the movie works on every level. The Minions are at their absolute best here: they are more prominent than in the original Despicable Me, but not so much that it’s overbearing. With the Minions being at the center of El Macho’s plot to use them to achieve world domination, Despicable Me 2 shows that Minions can be the focal point but still in bite-sized pieces. Since the original movie, Gru was always a family man at heart, and this movie really lets him shine as such. Therefore, Despicable Me 2 is the best Despicable Me movie in the franchise.
Next: Will Sandra Bullock’s Scarlet Overkill Return for Minions 2?
Minions: The Rise of Gru (2022)Release date: Jul 01, 2022
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Erika St. Denis
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Erika St. Denis has often turned to various forms of entertainment throughout her life when she needed a safe place. Her all-time favorite franchise is Star Wars and she can most certainly recite every line from Parks and Recreation. St. Denis loves to write about evergreen content and movies and TV shows that portray LGBTQ+ people positively.
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