At first glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that kids’ films and adult films were two separate genres; however, the success of witty, knowing features such as Despicable Me, The Lorax, Frozen and Megamind has changed the movie landscape entirely. Family-friendly films have always been popular with Hollywood because their target demographic is so vast, but with their filmic references, dry humor and quick delivery, the new breed of animated features appeal to the geek in us all more than ever.
Many of the jokes are aimed squarely at adults, referencing cultural or political events to which kids are oblivious, but on top of that, the visuals are stunning, and there’s brilliant voice acting provided by megastars such as Steve Carell, Robert De Niro and Angelina Jolie. Big names are becoming keener to be attached to animated films, and the familiarity of their voice, coupled with their cool star status, brings a certain cache to animated productions.
It’s socially acceptable to be a grown-up at a kids’ movie, but what about collecting the merchandise that goes with every production? If you love the minions from Despicable Me, you can get cosplay outfits, slippers and clothing, all for adult aficionados. The soundtrack also features many classic tracks, some of which, like “Sweet Home Alabama”, “You Should Be Dancing” and “Copacabana”, were laid down years before the film’s younger audience was even born.
Executive producer, Marc Shmuger, was a driving force behind the $500 million-grossing phenomenon that became Despicable Me and went on to spawn the sequel, Despicable Me 2. While at Universal, Marc was keen to produce more child-friendly movies that also appealed to adults and was instrumental in creating a production company for that sole purpose. He also worked with Hasbro, reaching a deal that enabled Universal to make films based on the toy manufacturer’s characters. Now, as the CEO of Global Produce, he is involved with the much-anticipated remake of Scarface.
The future of animation looks bright. Even forthcoming geeky blockbusters such as Avengers: Age of Ultron and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice have their origins in the kind of animation and comics that are loved by adults and children alike. The legacy of Despicable Me and other brilliantly animated features is a blurring of the boundaries between adult and kids’ films. These show-stopping productions appeal to the geek in us all, keeping us brilliantly entertained, regardless of the film’s classification.