Illumination released their first film ten years ago, and the level of dominance they have been able to attain in the industry is simply staggering. It is not every day that a company cranks out a film that grosses a billion dollars at the box office, so the fact that two of Illumination’s ten releases have cleared that benchmark is extremely impressive. That is not even taking into account the way in which they broke through the cultural consciousness with the minions. The company has had a few stumbles creatively along the way, but they have learned a lot in a short amount of time. In this newest collection from Universal Studios Home Entertainment, they have collected all ten of Illumination’s films into value-priced, space-saving package. Get our thoughts on this set below:
Despicable Me (2010)
In a happy suburban neighborhood surrounded by white picket fences with flowering rose bushes, sits a black house with a dead lawn. Unbeknownst to the neighbors, hidden beneath this house is a vast secret hideout. Surrounded by a small army of minions, we discover Gru (Steve Carell), planning the biggest heist in the history of the world. He is going to steal the moon. Gru delights in all things wicked. Armed with his arsenal of shrink rays, freeze rays, and battle-ready vehicles for land and air, he vanquishes all who stand in his way. Until the day he encounters the immense will of three little orphaned girls who look at him and see something that no one else has ever seen: a potential Dad. The world’s greatest villain has just met his greatest challenge: three little girls named Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Elsie Fisher).
Despicable Me was a pivotal first film for Illumination, as it announced them as a major player in the field of animation and gave the studio a virtual goldmine in the ubiquitous minions. While the yellow menace has plagued our society ever since, they were actually not to the point of being overused in this initial film. The film itself is a highlight amongst the young studio’s output with tons of huge laughs and a lot of heart. Villains often are given the opportunity to steal the show with their outrageous personalities, but by making the protagonist a villain himself you ease off the throttle much less than you would typically need to. The script itself is incredibly clever, but the real reason this film works so well is the strong vocal performance of Steve Carell. He brings so much fun and personality to Gru, and the warmth of his voice comes through when he is building the emotional bonds with his girls. The message of your family being those you choose to surround yourself with is enough to start touching Pixar-level emotions. This is as strong of an opening statement from a studio as I have ever seen, and it continues to deliver on all the necessary fronts ten years later.
Despicable Me 2 (2013)
Arch-criminal Gru (voice of Steve Carell) and his minions return in this computer-animated comedy sequel. Now living a life of domestic bliss in suburbia with adopted daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Agnes (Elsie Fisher) and Edith (Dana Gaier), Gru’s world is turned upside down when he finds himself abducted by agent Lucy Wilde (Kristen Wiig) of the Anti-Villain League on the orders of boss Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan). All is not what it seems, however, for with the world threatened by the new and dastardly super-villain known as Eduardo (Benjamin Bratt), it falls to the unique talents of Gru and his minions to step up to the plate and finally save the day.
When you have a potential franchise on your hands, there is no way you are going to leave money on the table. It only makes sense that Despicable Me would return for further adventures of Gru and his girls, along with the babbling yellow breakout stars of the first film. The sophomore entry finds a softened Gru trying to be the best dad he can to his girls, but his past has a way of creeping up on him. The film wisely expands the universe even more as it introduces a potential love interest for Gru. Carell may have stolen the film the first time out, but Kristen Wiig shines the brightest this time as Lucy, the AVL agent that transitions nicely into something more romantic for our protagonist. Her character is quirky and just generally quite lovely. Your heart breaks for Agnes as she expresses her desire to have a mom in her life, and you turn into a puddle when it all comes together in the end, even though you can telegraph it from a mile away. The minions are a bit more central to the plot this time around, but they are still on the right side of amusing at this point in time. The core ingredients may not feel as fresh as the first entry, but the creative team still manages to deliver a worthy sequel that expands the story in a substantial way.
Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Joining Steve Carell and Kristen Wiig in Despicable Me 3 is Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award winner Trey Parker, co-creator of Comedy Central’s global phenomenon South Park and the Broadway smash The Book of Mormon. Parker voices the role of villain Balthazar Bratt, a former child star who’s grown up to become obsessed with the character he played in the ’80s, and proves to be Gru’s most formidable nemesis to date.
The third film in the Despicable Me franchise would prove to be the biggest hit of the trilogy, but it would also falter somewhat creatively. This entry still offers up a lot of what made previous films so enjoyable, but it feels a bit less universal this time around. The first two films were incredible movies that families could enjoy, while Despicable Me 3 seems like a film more so geared towards children specifically. The vocal performances are still stellar all around, and the broadening of the world with Gru’s long-lost brother provides many substantial narrative pathways. Trey Parker (South Park) steals the show this time around as the nefarious Balthazar Bratt, who is the source of many of the films biggest laugh-out-loud moments. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where this story stumbles, but it just feels like the film is more aware of its previous success in a negative way. By this point, minions had become somewhat run into the ground creatively, but audiences were still clamoring for them. The first two films had a nuance and emotional resonance to them that does not quite get there this time around. The film is still enjoyable for what it is, but it is the weakest of the three entries.
The story of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions begins at the dawn of time. Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, perpetually serving the most despicable of masters. Continuously unsuccessful at keeping these masters—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression. But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his brethren to follow. The trio embark upon a thrilling journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award-winner Sandra Bullock), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in ‘mod’ London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind…from annihilation.
Minions is the type of cash grab that you see coming from a mile away and truly want to reject on principle alone. The film makes that feeling difficult to hold onto by offering up some truly hilarious moments in terms of visual gigs and ridiculous scenarios that the little yellow beings get into. Minions has many worthwhile moments, but the general feeling that the market is oversaturated with minions never truly goes away. Having these delightful agents of chaos typically elevated the Despicable Me films with their energetic cuteness, but too much of a good thing is something that can happen. These characters were previously used to enhance the comedy by coming in at the perfect moment, but having them as your lead characters brings about mixed results. The addition of Sandra Bullock and Jon Hamm definitely lends some credibility to the whole proceedings. Those who have a real affection for the minions will probably be able to gloss over the flaws of the film more than those who have already tired of the schtick. Minions is at its best when it is indulging in the absurdity, but it still struggles to find a compelling narrative reason for existing outside of its financial benefits.
The Secret Life of Pets (2016)
In their fifth fully animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we leave for work or school. Max, voiced by Louis C.K., is a loyal terrier living a perfectly happy existence until his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet) a big, boisterous mutt she finds at the shelter. When Max and his unruly new “roommate” slip away from their dog-walker, they find themselves lost in the urban jungle of New York City. In an attempt to stay ahead of animal control and a rebel band of abandoned pets led by an unhinged bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), they put aside their differences to survive the epic journey back home.
While the studio had developed some hits outside of the Despicable Me universe, The Secret Life of Pets came about at the perfect time as another franchise starter. This is a film that had one of the great teaser trailers, as it made audiences reflect on the age-old question of what your pets do whenever you are not around. This movie has a unique sense of humor that tickles the funny bone of all of the pet owners in the audience. You can tell the creative team took great care in recreating the subtle peccadillos that come from your furry companion. Although the film is very strong, it unexpectedly starts to lose steam near the end of the film as situations get more and more heightened. The movie shines when you are stuck in the apartment with each endearing personalities and watching how they pass their time. Once they start venturing out into the world and into underground tunnels, things become less about the characteristics of the animals and more of a plug-and-play plot outline for a family film. Ultimately, the film is quite charming and offers up tons of big laughs and some pleasant emotional beats. With some tweaking, this could have been the strongest film the studio has ever released.
The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019)
The Secret Life of Pets 2 continues the story of Max (Patton Oswalt), Gidget (Jenny Slate), Snowball (Kevin Hart) and the rest of the gang as they take on new adventures and are pushed to find the courage to become their own heroes. Explore the emotional lives of our pets – the deep bond between them, the families that love them – and find out what your pets are really doing when you’re not at home.
For better or for worse, the second installment in the Secret Life of Pets franchise exhibits many of the elements that are associated with the initial entry. The series continues to offer up humorous depictions of these fluffy beings, but it does not really say anything new while doing so. The film splits up our characters for the majority of the film which hampers a lot of the opportunity to dig deeper into these pets. All of the characters that you became attached to in the first one return for this new adventure including Max, who is sporting a new voice courtesy of Patton Oswalt. The comedian is no stranger to animated properties with his experience voicing Remy in Ratatouille. His voice delivers the perfect level of earnestness that you associate with Max, so I’m glad the creative team went with such a strong choice. As harmless as this project is, it is another example of the studio forcing a sequel because the box office gods demanded it. Younger audiences will probably not take note of any substantial dip in quality, but adults in the audience will likely find this a lacking effort.
From Illumination, the studio that brought you The Secret Life of Pets and the Despicable Me franchise, comes an animated comedy about finding the music that lives inside all of us. SING stars Academy Award® winner† Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, an eternally optimistic koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition to save his crumbling theater; Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, an overworked and unappreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva; Scarlett Johansson as Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior; Taron Egerton as Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies; as well as Seth MacFarlane, John C. Reilly, and Grammy Award-nominated Tori Kelly. SING is the musical comedy event of the year!
Sing explores familiar territory for the genre as it throws together talking animals and big musical moments into a film that offers up instances of brilliance amongst a generally middling effort. Your enjoyment of the film will largely depend on how much you enjoy hearing iconic songs reinterpreted by notable actors and artists from the day. A jukebox musical always gets your toe tapping while you are watching it, but it often fails to make an impression long term as much as other films do. When the song ties into the emotions of the character and actually advances the character arc, the movie seems way less superfluous. As with many Illumination films, the voice cast is the standout aspect of this production. I would never say no to having Matthew McConaughey in my ears, and he actually proves himself to be a strong vocal performer that does not fall into a parody of himself. The rest of the cast likewise bring their A-game such as Scarlett Johansson as the punk rock porcupine Ash or Nick Kroll as the over-the-top pig Gunter. The movie is enjoyable, but it all feels very fleeting at the end of the day.
This CGI/live action hybrid stars the voice of Russell Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as E.B., the Easter-Bunny-in-waiting who shuns his destiny in order to become a rock-and-roll drummer. E.B.’s misadventures bring him into contact with frustrated slacker Fred (James Marsden, Enchanted), and this relationship ultimately lets both man and rabbit realize their individual dreams.
Hop is the second film from the burgeoning studio, and it also serves as the studio’s lone attempt at bridging live-action with animation. Blending these worlds has worked very effectively in the past, but Hop does not quite pull it off and serves as Illumination’s sole stinker in this set. Children will probably be entertained by the bright pastel colors and broad characters, but it is hard to get invested as an adult. The movie plays right to our interest by providing James Marsden as the human counterpart to our lead E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), but his innate charm can only do so much to elevate this immature script. If we have to see him interacting with an animated character, Sonic the Hedgehog will be our choice. Brand does a serviceable job as our lead voice actor, but his peculiar sensibilities are stifled in the context of a children’s film. The animation work is quite impressive, but the story just is not there to back it up. The film has some chuckles throughout, but by all accounts this was a misfire that should mostly be forgotten in the context of the studio’s legacy.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012)
Directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda (Despicable Me)…the film is an imaginative journey that begins in the town of Thneedville, where a boy (Zac Efron, Hairspray) searches for the one thing he knows will win the heart of his dream girl (Taylor Swift, Valentine’s Day). But in order to find it, he must discover the story of the Lorax (DeVito), the often grumpy but lovable protector of Truffula Valley.
The task of adapting an iconic book such as The Lorax is quite a balancing act as you try to take a brief, compelling story and expand it into a full-blown Hollywood production. Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax mostly succeeds in capturing the spirit of the book while building out a world that is full of wonder and whimsy. Danny DeVito is no stranger to the world of animation with his gravelly voice, and he serves as the perfect person to bring the titular character to life. DeVito is the star of the show as he offers up the lion’s share of the hilarity. Out of the remaining cast members, Ed Helms stands out the most as the Once-ler, while Taylor Swift and Zac Efron put in steady performances as the focal characters. The film admittedly indulges in some typical Hollywood animation tropes that would most likely make Seuss himself wince, but those instances are kept to a minimum. The reason to show up for this one is to see the imaginative Dr. Seuss world brought to life with marvelous, colorful detail that is simply gorgeous to behold. It may not be a perfect adaptation, but the film offers up some solid laughs and a necessary message about environmental preservation.
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (2018)
The film based on Dr. Seuss’ beloved tale about a cynical grouch who goes on a mission to steal Christmas from others only to feel his own heart grow three sizes larger through unexpected friendships is one the whole family can watch and enjoy.
Nothing quite makes it feel like the holidays as much as the annual viewing of the classic animated Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This special has been a holiday essential for many families over the years, and it is difficult to think how it could be improved upon. Early in the new millennium director Ron Howard brought us the Jim Carrey-fronted live-action adaptation that still holds a soft spot in my heart despite some imperfections. With these two enjoyable adaptations of the landmark Dr. Seuss book, did the world need another take on the tale? The answer is no, but Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch nevertheless proves to be an enjoyable entry that enhances your holiday spirit. The vocal talents behind the screen are solid, especially Benedict Cumberbatch in an unexpected role as the green grouch. Rashida Jones has a voice that radiates joy, which makes her the ideal choice as an empathetic single mother trying to juggle it all. The attempts to expand the Grinch lore offers up some humorous and heartfelt moments, but nothing ever comes about to make the film feel essential. It will not replace any of the previous versions, but the film offers up a solid amount of entertainment.
The Illumination Presents 10-Movie Collection comes to Blu-Ray with ten stunning and vibrant 1080p transfers. All ten of the discs included in the collection are exactly the same as previous individual releases. Due to the similar nature of these films, they will be discussed as a group with any necessary differences pointed out. All of these films have been released in the past ten years, and they deliver as strong of a presentation as one would hope from such a recent production. The colors present in these transfers are practically leaping off the screen with the wide range of hues permeating every inch of the frame. The textures, from the character designs to the environments, are extremely impressive and give the films a real sense of depth. The studio has a very distinct and exaggerated character design style that offers up some impressive visuals. All of the individual traits of each character are unique and natural to the world. The level of detail these animators put into each environment shines through here. Black levels are incredibly strong throughout with no hint of compression artifacts or digital anomalies of the sort. There is only a minimal amount of banding present in certain scenes if you are really looking closely. The only film that offers less than a truly stunning presentation is Hop, mostly due to the blending of live action with animation. The blending of the two worlds finds some spikes in the grain field popping up that may be a bit distracting to more discerning viewers. Outside of this film, these discs are about as close to perfect as a Blu-Ray disc can look.
Similar to the video portion, these Blu-Rays offer up a superior auditory experience that should please fans. These ten releases offer up three different audio options between them. Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, Hop and The Lorax come equipped with a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track, while Despicable Me 3 gets graced with a DTS-X track. Minions, The Secret Life of Pets, The Secret Life of Pets 2, Sing and Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch go all out with a Dolby Atmos track. There are some differences in how dynamic the sounds are from film to film, but every presentation sounds fantastic. All of these tracks are supremely engaged and active. The dialogue and voice work never falters in clarity. The score and special effects are balanced well so that no lines of dialogue are ever overwhelmed within the mix. The main dialogue is anchored in the center channel with occasional instances of people communicating from off-screen. Environmental sounds typically fill the surround speakers with subtle sounds. Action sequences result in sounds panning around the room in a really cool way. The low end is engaged by the many action-packed scenes throughout these films. Music drops fill the side and rear speakers in a way that makes your room come alive. The films with Atmos tracks are obviously the most dynamic with some inventive uses of the height channels that really immerse you into the world. These films are very musical in nature, and these tracks bring everything to life in a really magical way.
- Audio Commentary: Directors Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin provide an informative commentary track featuring guest appearances from the minions. The pair discuss some of their inspirations for the characters, how they came up with certain designs, how certain characters evolved in terms of design and more. Some inspirations for the creators include The Addams Family, the Peanuts characters, and even The Simpsons. A bit dry overall, but worth a listen if you want to get greater insights into the creative process.
- Gru-Control: Re-ignite your enjoyment of the film by watching it while the characters take over the viewing experience. The screen shrinks and moves around as Gru and the minions engage in shenanigans outside of the story.
- Despicable Me Mini-Movies: Three shorts totaling 12-minutes featuring more minion fun including the kids using them to get ready for a home inspection, minion orientation day and more. These are quick and enjoyable supplements to the film.
- The Voices of Despicable Me: A 17-minute look at the vocal talents behind the film with the cast and crew in which they discuss the special talents each performer brings to the role. The most delightful part is seeing a baby Elsie Fisher (Eighth Grade) being interviewed for her role as Agnes.
- The World of Despicable Me: A 15-minute look at the heightened world that the story takes place in including a look at the amenities for villains, the gadgets in the film, the minions and more.
- Despicable Beats: A 3-minute look at the music in the film as created by composer Pharrell Williams. It is fun to hear where he drew inspiration to create this fun track.
- Super Silly Fun Land: This section offers up three interactive games that you can play.
- Gru’s Rocket Builder: Another interactive feature in which you are supposed to help Gru build a rocket to transport oversized landmarks.
- Miss Hattie’s Top Secret Cookie Recipes: A collection of five delicious-sounding cookie recipes are provided here if you are ambitious.
- A Global Effort: A three-minute look at the various animation studios employed throughout the world to bring this movie to life. In addition to getting to hear about the creative process, you get some beautiful shots of cities from around the world.
- Despicable Me Game Previews: Trailers for Despicable Me: The Game and the Despicable Me: Minion Mania app are provided here.
Despicable Me 2
- Audio Commentary: Directors Chris Renaud & Pierre Coffin once again provide a commentary track for the film in which they discuss evolving the characters for the new film, their inspiration from James Bond, bringing new characters into the film, repurposing moments from the first film in unexpected ways and more.
- Mini-Movies: Three shorts totaling 15-minutes are provided here featuring the minions getting a “puppy,” the minions getting into I Love Lucy-esque hijinks in a mailroom and Agnes getting some assistance with learning to ride a bike. Each short is introduced by Gru as he prepares you for what you are about to see. There is also a six-minute making-of featurette that takes you behind the scenes of these shorts. Once again, these are fun and worth your time.
- Deleted Scenes – Gruties: A minute-long scene where a baby Gru is humiliated at school.
- The Minions: A three-minute look at the breakout characters from the film in which the cast and crew discuss the characteristics of the beings and faux-argue if they are truly “delightful.” This supplement is tongue-in-cheek and amusing enough.
- Evil Minions: A four-minute look at the transformation of the iconic characters in this film and how that impacts the story. The team discusses the fun in balancing the cute with the monstrous.
- A Gru-Some Transformation: A nearly six-minute look at the Gru’s evolution into a full-fledged father figure and how that changes the core of the character. The cast and crew discuss how they drew inspiration from their real lives when tackling the character.
- El Hombre Malo – The Villainy of El Macho: A four-minute look at developing this character and what traits the cast and crew wanted to accent in the film. It is fun to hear voice actor Benjamin Bratt excitedly discuss what he wanted to bring to the film.
- Gru’s Girls: A five-minute look at Gru’s daughters in this film with the cast and crew in which they discuss how each of them have evolved in this follow-up chapter of the story. The innocent insights provided by the young actresses are delightful.
- Gadget’s Galore: A four-minute look at at the new designs featured in the film and where the creative team drew their inspiration.
Despicable Me 3
- Mini-Movie – The Secret of Kyle: A four-minute short film in which the family’s pet “dog” Kyle competes for the affection of a local neighborhood pooch. This is a cute supplement to the film.
- Deleted Scene with Into by Dana Gaier: An unused scene that is less than a minute long that is introduced by the voice of Edith. In this scene, Edith plays a mischievous prank on the kitchen staff.
- Minion Moments: Two incredibly brief short films are included here featuring the minions making virtual reality a bit more real and going overboard when it comes to getting rid of a spider.
- Character Profiles: A collection of two-minute interviews with Steve Carell (Gru & Dru), Kristen Wiig (Lucy), Miranda Cosgrove (Margo), Dana Gaier (Edith) and Nev Scharrel (Agnes). The one with Scharrel is really endearing as you hear the young actress discuss having to act with her mouth full, which goes against everything her mom taught her.
- The Making of Despicable Me 3: A seven-minute featurette which delves into the evolution of Gru, creating something new for the characters, the team of directors working on the film, the voice work in the film, the importance of a good villain and more. This is brief but informative.
- Developing Dru: A four-minute look at bringing Gru’s long-lost brother to life and what the key was to unlocking the character traits. The creators put a lot of thought into establishing Dru as his own person with a distinct personality.
- The AVL Files: An interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the following characters: Gru, Lucy, Dru, Balthazar Bratt, El Macho, and Vector.
- Freedonia Visitors Guide: An interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the following lands: The Crooked Forest, The Tipsy Unikorn, The Cheez Festival, The Riviera, and Free Range Pigs.
- Despicable Me TV: A selection of moments from the film repurposed to act as advertisements for products including Balthazar Bratt Action Figure, ‘Bad Boy Bod’ by Balthazar Bratt, and Agnes’ Super Cute, Incredibly Amazing Toy Sale.
- “Doowit” Sing-Along: A minute-and-a-half sing-along in which the lyrics are provided on screen.
- Music Video: A nearly four-minute inventive music video for the song “Yellow Light” by Pharrell Williams.
- Minion Mug Shots: A collection of humorous minion mug shots are provided here.
- Wanted Posters: A collection of amusing minion wanted posters are provided here.
- Mini-Movies: Three short films totaling 13 minutes are included here including the minions taking care of a prehistoric baby, the minions competing in increasingly epic tasks, and a baby rescuing his lost pacifier in a way that would make Ethan Hunt proud.
- Deleted Scene: An unused 30-second scene involving fun with mirrors
- Around the World Interactive: An interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the world from a provided map.
- Behind the Goggles – The Illumination Story of the Minions: A five-part look at various aspects of the minions including the writers, their importance to the studio, the character design, the music and more.
- Jingle Bells Minion Style: A two-minute look at the classic Christmas song performed in a way that only the minions can pull off.
- The Secret Life of Pets: A nearly three-minute preview of our next feature from the studio.
The Secret Life of Pets
- The Humans That Brought You Pets: Five quick interviews totaling nine minutes are included here featuring insights from Producers Chris Meledandri and Janet Healy, Directors Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud, and Writer Brian Lynch. It is interesting to get a peek behind the creative process.
- Animals Can Talk – Meet the Actors: A four-minute look at the voices who bring these characters to life with brief interviews and a behind-the-scenes look at the recording process. Luckily, Louis C.K. did not participate in this…
- All About the Pets: A six-minute featurette in which Animal Trainer Molly O’Neill brings out some animals for actors Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart to interact with.
- Hairstylist to the Dogs: A four-minute featurette in which Eric Stonestreet joins Stylist Jess Rona to learn some grooming tips. Rona is known for being one of the top animal stylists for celebrities.
- How to Make An Animated Film: A four-minute look at what it takes to bring an animated film to life with the cast and crew. This is a very condensed version of the process, but it offers a quick dose of information.
- Anatomy of a Scene: A five-minute examination of all the aspects that go into creating a single scene from an animation perspective.
- The Best of Snowball: A minute-long assortment of some of the most humorous moments with the white rabbit voiced by Kevin Hart.
- Lyric Video: A two-minute video for the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers which provides the lyrics on screen with characters from the film.
- Hot Dog Sing-Along: A minute-long song-and-dance in a magical land full of hotdogs.
- Fandango – Brian the Minion On Pets: The minions offers their own brand of incomprehensible commentary over three minute-long scenes from the film. This is brief and silly.
- GoPro – The Secret Life of Pets: A two-minute advertisement for GoPro that is intercut with moments from the film.
- Sing Trailer: The four-minute trailer for the next big franchise from Illumination.
- Mini-Movies: Three short films totaling 13 minutes are provided here including one of Norman the guinea pig watching the residents of the building like a television show, a hot dog who learns to be proud of being a “weenine,” and the minions getting into the lawn care business. There is also a seven-minute look at the process of making these films in France and how it influences what makes it to the screen.
The Secret Life of Pets 2
- Super Gidget: A four-minute short film which features Gidget as a superhero who saves the day from squirrels and fleas in her dreams.
- Minion Scouts: A four-minute short film which features the minions being the worst scouts ever while in pursuit of badges.
- The Making of the Mini-Movies: A five-minute look at the creation of these two shorts in which the crew discusses the logistics of working from different continents, among other things.
- Deleted Scenes: Four scenes totaling two minutes are included here in very rough, unfinished animation. These are worth a look if you are a fan of the film.
- A Tapestry of a Tail – The Making Of: A seven-minute overview of the film’s production from the broadening of the world, the balancing act of the three storylines, the character design, the vocal performances and more.
- How to Draw: Head of Story Eric Favela guides viewers through the steps that will allow them to draw Max, Snowball and Chloe.
- Frame By Frame – How to Make A Flip Book: This time Favela shows viewers the trick to flip animation.
- Character Pods: Seventeen minutes of the actors talking about their characters including Patton Oswalt – Max, Kevin Hart – Snowball, Eric Stoenstreet – Duke, Jenny Slate – Gidget, Tiffany Haddish – Daisy, Lake Bell – Chloe, Nick Kroll – Sergei, Dana Carvey – Pops, Bobby Moynihan – Mel, and Harrison Ford – Rooster. These are brief but fun insights from these really funny performers.
- My Buddy And Me: A nearly four-minute look at the cast and crew with their pets, which also includes discussions of the pets they have owned throughout their lives. This is a really fun supplement as you get to see cute animals and hear really funny anecdotes.
- The Further Adventures of Captain Snowball: An interactive motion-comic which allows you to go on another adventure with Captain Snowball.
- Pets with Jobs – A Documentary: A seven-minute featurette which highlights some service dogs that are basically little angels on earth. This is very heartwarming.
- A Party Fit For A Pet: A seven-minute featurette which gives you helpful instructions on how to throw your pet an amazing party.
- Relax the Cat – The Secret Life of Pet Massage: A four-minute supplement in which Dana Carvey, Bobby Moynihan and Lake Bell learn the art of giving pets a massage. Lake Bell is the MVP of pet massage.
- Pops’ Puppy Training School with Kevin Hart: A nearly three-minute look at Hart trying to teach a puppy how to behave in a very ineffective manner. A second dog proves to be a bit more compliant, but both provide very amusing moments.
- Production Pets: A six-minute featurette that shows a slideshow of all of the lovable pets owned by the creative team. This is such a heartwarming addition.
- Pat’s Yule Log: A two-minute screen saver in which characters from the film move back-and-forth across the screen.
- Lyric Videos: The songs “Panda” and “It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day” are provided here with videos that include lyrics on the screen.
- Mini-Movies: Three short films totaling 12 minutes are provided here including Gunter getting overwhelmed by babysitting, Miss Crawly trying her hand at online dating and Eddie trying out an infomercial lifecoach tape. These are all funny and worthy additions to the film. There is also a six-minute look at the process of making these films and the joy it brings the creative team.
- The Making of Sing: A five-minute look at the production of the film from the origins of the story, the difficulty of adapting to animation when coming from live action, the character designs, the voice work and more.
- Finding the Rhythm – Editing Sing: A three-minute look at shaping the film to be the best version possible including how they use certain shots to establish the tone of the film.
- Character Profiles: A twelve-minute collection of actors talking about their characters including Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, Tori Kelly as Meena, Taron Egerton as Johnny, Nick Kroll as Gunter, and Garth Jennings as Miss Crawly. These are so much fun to dig into, especially listening to McConaughey discuss his process with that hypnotic voice.
- Music Video: A music video for “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” by Tori Kelly with visuals from the film creatively implemented throughout.
- Making a Music Video with Tori Kelly: A three-minute look at creating the proceeding video in which Kelly discusses the Stevie Wonder influence on the music, the street art visuals in the video, the choreography and more.
- Music Video: A music video for “Faith” by Stevie Wonder featuring Ariana Grande is included here.
- Lyric Video: A lyric video for “Faith” is included here with visuals from the film playing in the background.
- Lyric Video: A lyric video for “Set It All Free” by Scarlett Johansson is included here with visuals from the film playing in the background.
- Sing and Dance! – “Faith”: A nearly seven-minute featurette in which some dancers show you moves they choreographed to perform to the song “Faith.”
- The Sing Network: A five-part featurette which showcases a collection of television content including advertisements for Gunter’s Dance Studio, The Moon Theater, Rosita’s Babysitting Gizmo and more. These are probably some of the more fun additions to this package.
- The Best of Gunter: A minute-long assortment of some of the most humorous moments with the European pig voiced by Nick Kroll.
- U-Control Features: You are given an option to watch the film with E.B tweeting sporadic messages throughout the film or messages highlighting locations in the film. Nothing too exciting here.
- Phil’s Dance Party: A three-minute short that features the cute chick attempting to host an epic dance party, which is hijacked by Carlos. If you enjoy seeing cute animated chicks dancing around, this should be an enjoyable experience for you.
- The World of Hop: Six short videos totaling 9 minutes are included here which offer a look into “The Candy Factory,” “E.B.,” “Fred,” “The Easter Bunny,” “Carlos and Phil” and “Sam.” The lack of a play-all button is frustrating, but there are some fun asides hidden away in here.
- All Access with Cody Simpson: A nearly three-minute featurette in which artist Cody Simpson provides snippets from the making of his version of “I Want Candy” before heading off to the Hop premiere at Universal City Walk.
- Russell Brand – Being the Bunny: A minute-long animated cut-out segment in which Brand talks about preparing for the role of a bunny. He manages to throw in a few random lines in here that made me laugh regarding Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
- Russell Brand’s Kid Crack Ups: A three-minute featurette in which Brand quizzes children about the film. There are points where Brand seems to be lightly roasting the kids that amused me.
- Carlos on Carlos – The Premiere According to Carlos: A nearly four-minute look at the movie premiere as seen through the eyes of Carlos. He conducts some interviews with the actors on the red carpet that offer a few chuckles.
- Emotion In Motion – The Dance of Ken Daurio: A nearly three-minute tongue-in-cheek look at being a choreographer for an animated film.
- Post Coup Commentary – Carlos & Phil Tell All: A three-minute featurette which allows Carlos to run through the film while offering some humorous insights into the plot.
- Games: Three games are provided here that offer brief entertainment.
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
- Audio Commentary: Director Chris Renaud and Co-Director Kyle Balda provide a very informative commentary track in which they discuss the development of the film, expanding the book into a feature film, the look and tone of the film, the voice performances, the creatures in the film and more. This will be a bit too dry for younger audiences, but there are some interesting conversations for older audiences that want to know more behind-the-scenes details.
- Mini-Movies: Three short films totaling 9 minutes are provided here including stories in which a pair of bar-ba-loots taking a mule-drawn carriage for a wild adventure, a bar-ba-loot learns to be a honorary lorax, and one in which two bar-ba-loots try to win the affection of a femme-ba-loot through music. There is also a three-minute look at the creative process in which they mostly discuss the steps in broad strokes.
- Deleted Scenes: A nearly two-minute unused scene which features an unplanned death-defying stunt due to a cat freak out.
- O’Hare TV: An option to watch the film with commercials advertising O’Hare products. Not an essential addition, but may be worth putting on for something different if the kids choose to watch this fairly frequently.
- Expedition of Truffula Valley: An interactive feature that allows you to learn more about Thneedville and the Valley.
- Seuss to Screen: A nearly five-minute look at adapting the book to the film with the cast and crew. This piece explores how important the original material is to the participants and how and what they focused on when adapting it into a feature. This is one of the more interesting supplements, and it would have been nice if it was slightly longer.
- Games: Three interactive games are provided that will mostly appeal to younger audiences. These include “Once-ler’s Wagon,” “Get Out of Town” and “Truffula Run.”
- “Let It Grow” Sing-Along: The nearly four-minute song from the film is provided here with words on the screen with movie-relevant settings in the background
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
- Mini-Movies: Three short films totaling 12 minutes are provided here including stories with a minion prison break, Max venturing out into the cold winter landscape to get the Grinch some tea, and Miami-bound minions getting recruited to be elves in the North Pole. These are all quite funny and worth checking out. There is also a six-minute look at the creative process with the animation team in which they offer insights into making these films.
- From Green to Screen: A six-minute look at the process of expanding the iconic book into a feature film with the cast and crew. The participants discuss taking inspiration from the source material, expanding the backstory, how the story resonates with those who work on it, what the actors bring to the characters and more.
- Illuminating The Grinch: A five-minute look at honoring the visual style of the original Seuss book while giving the film its own identity. There are certain key elements that they were careful to treat respectfully.
- Who’s Who In Who-Ville: An interactive feature that collects a variety of different features including a Character Profile, Animation Tests, Progression Reel, and a Photo Gallery. These options are given for The Grinch, Cindy-Lou Who, Max & Fred, Head Whos and Cindy-Lou’s Crew. There is a lot of good stuff to dig into here including interviews you will not find anywhere else.
- My Earliest Grinch Memories: A three-minute featurette in which the cast and crew discuss their personal experience with the Dr. Seuss book. There are some lovely anecdotes provided here that are a delight to hear.
- Grinchy Gadgets: A three-minute look at some of the inventive gadgets used in the film with insights from the cast and crew as to the usefulness of each item. Cumberbatch has some very amusing asides.
- Lyric Video: A video for the updated “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in which the words appear on screen with character and moments from the film.
- Lyric Video: A video for “I Am The Grinch” from Tyler. The Creator in which the words appear on screen with inventive movie-appropriate animation.
- Songs from His Little Heart: A three-minute look at the fanciful music from the film as composed by Danny Elfman. Elfman offers up an interesting anecdote about meeting the real-life Dr. Seuss in his younger years.
- Any Who Can Draw: Head of Story Mark O’Hare guides viewers through the steps that will allow them to draw The Grinch, Max and Fred.
- X-Mas Around the World: A two-minute guide to some of the different Christmas traditions celebrated around the world, which is actually quite fascinating. These traditions are interspersed with snippets from the film.
- Cindy-Lou’s Yule Log: An eight-minute screensaver featuring a fireplace in which the Grinch occasionally offers up some commentary and appears on screen while slowly stealing the decorations.
- Production Babies: A minute-long collection of names representing the babies that were born to crew members during the production of the film.
Illumination has quickly found their groove in their ten years of releasing films. Not every film knocks it out of the park, but they have done a solid job of producing films that resonate with their intended audience. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has released this new collection that encapsulates every step of their journey from minions to Dr. Seuss to talking pets. This discs sport a stunning A/V presentation and a ton of special features to appeal to both children and adults. If you are a fan of these films, this set offers you the opportunity to own Illumination’s entire output thus far in one value-priced set in space-saving packaging. Recommended
Illumination Presents 10-Movie Collection is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has supplied a copy of this set free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.