The latest film from the Despicable Me franchise, Minions: The Rise of Gru, directed by Kyle Balda and Brad Abbas, hit the theaters last July 1, 2022. The film is the second prequel after Minions (2015) which is also produced by Illumination. The film features Steve Carell reprising his role as Gru and Pierre Coffin as the Minions, with Taraji P. Henson, Michelle Yeoh, RZA, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lucy Lawless, Dolph Lundgren, Danny Trejo, Russell Brand, Julie Andrews, and Alan Arkin. The film follows Gru and his Minions as they go on the run from the Vicious 6, a group of super-villains who are out to get them. Along the way, the Minions must help Gru save the world from a dangerous new threat. With its mix of humor, action, and adventure, Minions: The Rise of Gru is sure a hit with kids and adults alike. In a review by Common Sense Media, they wrote, “Tween Gru and the ageless and delightfully silly minions make this ’70s-set origin story a short-and-sweet adventure for families and fans of the franchise. There’s a universality to watching loner Gru idolize a group (he even has their action figures), even if it is a bunch of baddies.” If you’re looking for a fun-filled movie to watch with the family, be sure to check the following films on our list that feature funny and heart-warming stories about villain heroes.
We can’t watch Gru’s origin story without watching the first film that centers on him as a supervillain. Despicable Me is a 2010 American computer-animated comedy film about a supervillain Gru who adopts three orphan girls. The movie was directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, produced by Chris Meledandri, Janet Healy, and John Cohen, and written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. The voice cast includes Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig, Will Arnett, and Julie Andrews. In the movie, Gru plans to steal a shrink ray from his rival Vector in order to shrink and steal the Moon. The movie was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $543 million worldwide and was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards and Annie Awards. The Hollywood Reporter praised the film’s animation and lead character saying, “The animation overseen by directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin gets an A for energy, imagination and color. And Gru might be the most interesting cartoon bad guy since “Ratatouille’s” Angon Ego.’’
Another film that centers on a supervillain, is the 2010 American computer-animated superhero comedy film Megamind, directed by Tom McGrath, produced by DreamWorks Animation, and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It features the voices of Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, David Cross, and Brad Pitt. The film tells the story of Megamind, a super-intelligent supervillain who strives to defeat his nemesis, Metro Man, the city’s superhero. When he finally achieves his goal, a new villain emerges and Metro city is in need of a new hero which just might just be his opportunity to step up. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $321 million worldwide. Megamind is a fun and lighthearted film that is sure to entertain audiences of all ages. RogerEbert.com published a review of the film and wrote, “Megamind is an amusing family entertainment and gains some energy from clever dialogue and the fun Will Ferrell has with his character.”
The Bad Guys
The Bad Guys is a 2022 computer-animated heist comedy film loosely based on the children’s book series of the same name by Aaron Blabey. It follows a group of criminals who are trying to reform their ways. The film stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein, and Lilly Singh. The film was directed by Pierre Perifel and written by Etan Cohen. Common Sense Media wrote a review of the film and gave specific praise to its modern take on an idiom. “This animated adaptation of Aaron Blabey’s beloved Scholastic books revels in bringing a charming, modern take to a very specific idiom: “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Taking an empathetic approach to a crew of thieves who only pretend to “go good,” this lighthearted and amusing heist comedy shows that when someone is labeled as “bad,” they’re likely at some point to start believing it.”
The 2018 American computer-animated musical comedy film Smallfoot does not necessarily feature a villain but centers on a portrayal of man and yeti who both think the other is just a myth. The plot follows a young Yeti who is convinced that the legendary creatures known as “smallfoot” (humans) actually exist. When he finally meets one, he must decide whether to expose her to his clan or keep her existence a secret. Based on the unpublished children’s book Yeti Tracks by Sergio Pablos, the film was co-written and directed by Karey Kirkpatrick and stars the voices of Channing Tatum, James Corden, Zendaya, Common, LeBron James, Gina Rodriguez, Danny DeVito, Yara Shahidi, Ely Henry, and Jimmy Tatro. Smallfoot was released in theaters on September 28, 2018, to positive reviews from critics, who praised its animation, humor, voice acting, and messages about open-mindedness and intolerance. In a review by Empire, they wrote, “Smallfoot effectively weaves powerful messages into a fun, heart-warming animation that is sure to appeal to audiences both young and old.”
Our list of recommendations can’t be complete without The Grinch. The 2018 American computer-animated Christmas fantasy comedy film The Grinch also produced by Illumination and distributed by Universal Pictures was directed by Scott Mosier and Yarrow Cheney with a screenplay by Michael LeSieur and Tommy Swerdlow and features the voices of Benedict Cumberbatch, Rashida Jones, Kenan Thompson, Angela Lansbury, and Pharrell Williams, who serves as the narrator. The Grinch tells the story of a grumpy creature who lives alone on the top of a mountain above the town of Whoville. The Grinch hates Christmas and everything about it, but when he learns that the citizens of Whoville are planning to celebrate the holiday with a huge celebration, he sets out to ruin their plans. Variety published a review of the film praising its new take on the classic saying, “ For anyone who grew up with “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “The Grinch” won’t replace it, yet it’s nimble and affectionate in a way that can hook today’s children, and more than a few adults, by conjuring a feeling that comes close enough. By the end, your own heart will swell, though maybe just one or two sizes.”