What Is the Best DreamWorks Animation Movie?

What Is the Best DreamWorks Animation Movie?

Mar 22, 2013

People are always ranking the Pixar animated features. Why don't they do the same with DreamWorks Animation titles? Is it just because DreamWorks is considered a lesser studio? Sure, Pixar has a better track record with critics and Academy Awards and it has a better average with box office success ($251 million to DW's $163), in part because during a nearly equal time frame, DreamWorks has released twice as many features, including low-grossing hand-drawn features.

Actually, regardless of the output, it is true Dreamworks just barely has the worst Rotten Tomatoes score (Shark Tale's 36% versus Cars 2's 38%) and Pixar has the most titles with 90% rating or above (10 to DW's four) and better IMDb ratings, too (eight with 8.0 or above versus DW's single film in that range -- How to Train Your Dragon). 

But let's keep Pixar out of this. DreamWorks might not be Pixar, but it's certainly not awful. Besides that acclaimed and popular Dragon film it can also count two exceptional Aardman features (Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit-- I never saw Flushed Away, though I hear it's not great) as well as Antz, which some of us consider better than A Bug's Life if only because it starred the voice and shtick of Woody Allen (that's good enough reason).

And there are a few that are simply enjoyable without us having had huge expectations for them, such as Monsters vs. Aliens, Megamind, Kung Fu Panda and now The Croods. Shrek also seemed to be really, really beloved when first released, until DreamWorks ruined the characters and concept with too many sequels and other diluting elements. The studio is sadly even more sequel happy than today's Pixar, and it won't surprise me when the Dragon sequels are a great disappointment.

That said, while I think Chicken Run is truly the best thing DreamWorks Animation has ever done with the Wallace and Gromit feature close behind, if I were to exclude Aardman coproductions I'd pick Kung Fu Panda 2 as the best-written, best-designed and best-directed of the studio's releases. The variation of style, the spectacular employment of 3D (plus some retention of the appropriate flatness of Chinese-inspired imagery mixed in), the plot involving the duality of gunpowder... And I'm constantly amazed the studio has done two movies with Jack Black playing an ever-hungry Panda and managed to avoid fart jokes. 

Now I'm wondering if the films we consider the best of DreamWorks Animation aren't simply films we're most surprised aren't awful. Imagine if Kung Fu Panda had been made by Pixar. Would it have had even better reviews? And if Brave were DreamWorks would it have been viewed as less disappointing yet still have more negative reviews anyway?


What is the best DreamWorks Animation movie?

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