The Ten Best Dreamworks Animation Movies

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The Ten Best Dreamworks Animation Movies

In the world of modern animated cinema, the conversation is always controlled by Disney’s Pixar Animation.  Their films are continually among the top ten films of the year, either box-office or critical praise. However, moviegoers must not forget about Dreamworks Animation.  They have never reached the heights of the best Pixar has to offer, but there are some wonderful films in their stable. Ever since 1998’s Antz, Dreamworks has been nipping at the heels Disney and doing a decent job.  Dreamworks Animation has a silliness and subversiveness to their films that certainly differentiate them from Pixar.  Sure, Dreamworks has only pulled off two Best Animated Feature Academy Awards to Disney/Pixar’s thirteen, but they are a perennial nominee.  Still, Dreamworks keeps churning out fun, entertaining, films. Here are the 10 best-animated films from Dreamworks Animation.

Chicken Run (2000)

From the creators of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run is essentially a take off on prison break movies like The Great Escape.  Claymation movies have always had a certain amount of charm that is lost with traditional or CGI animation.  The level of skill and tedium that is involved so easily makes the audience appreciate the craft to an exceptional level.  Also, it is great how the film does not pull punches. These chickens are in danger and really need to escape. Mel Gibson voices Rocky and brings a lot of fun gravitas to all the silliness.  Chicken Run is simply a lot of goofy fun.

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Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009)

Monsters Vs. Aliens doesn’t have the knife-edged humor and/or heavy moral tale that the best-animated films need to reach greatness, but it has wonderful voice-over work, enough silliness, and an impressive grand scope that makes the film a fantastic experience.  Reese Witherspoon plays a woman who is grown to a giant size after being hit by a meteorite.  Afterward, she is recruited by the government to fight off an encroaching alien force.  The film has lots of great characters, but none as fun as Stephen Colbert as the President.  One of the best aspects of Monsters Vs. Aliens though is how flawless it was with its 3D conversion and IMAX format.  It is one of the most visually striking of all of Dreamworks Animation’s films.

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The Croods (2013)

Dreamworks Animation really outdid them selves with 2013’s The Croods.  First, the casting of Nicholas Cage is pretty brilliant.   He is an actor that has become famous for going off the deep end acting crazy.  So, what better fit could you have for the patriarch of a zany caveman family?  Otherwise, the voice cast is also superb.  You can’t get much more A-list than Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds.  However,  each and every character is important and given the chance to shine.  This story whereby an overprotective caveman father must bring his family across the dangerous wilderness after their cave is destroyed is perfect for comedy, adventure, and even romance.  This movie just seemed to fire on all cylinders.

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Kung Fu Panda (2008)

Kung Fu Panda is a rather classic story, where a fool falls ass-backward into prophecy, much to the confusion of the rest of the characters.  Jack Black is perfect as Po.  He falls into a prophecy and kicks off a wonderful adventure. The voice cast is phenomenal.  Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogen, and Lucy Liu are the members of the dojo. However, Ian McShane as the main villain, Tai Lung, is one of the best-animated villains in years.  What’s more, the action is wonderful. Often times, animated action sequences are disorienting and confusing, but the martial arts here is perfect. Simply put, Kung Fu Panda is one of the most well rounded animated films of the 2000s.  It has humor, charm, and action that hit almost every mark.

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Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit (2005)

After Shrek, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit is the other film that pulled of the Best Animated Feature Oscar.  That is good because the film is hilarious. The Curse of the Were Rabbit rockets along at a breakneck pace and is full of slapstick and subversive humor that is as good as the best comedies of any year.  Once again, the claymation has a unique appeal that you can’t get anywhere else. Wallace and Gromit are infinitely optimistic goofballs that emulate sharp, British humor mixed with Looney Tunes and it is one of Dreamworks Animations best films.

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Trolls (2016)

Dreamworks Animation has always reliable for a good time.  That is what Trolls is, a good time.  Just like with The Lego Movie, this film has no business being as good as it is.  In the world of this film, larger troll-like beings are out to ingest trolls to ingest their happiness.  Certainly, it is a bit dark.  However, Trolls is packed to the brim with hilarity and joy.  Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, James Corden, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zooey Deschanel, etc…all great voice talents that bring an incredible vibrancy to their characters. The music choices are superb and really move the story along in a fun way.  Trolls isn’t reinventing the wheel in any way but its enthusiasm was a bit infectious.

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Shrek 2 (2004)

Not my gumdrop buttons!!  It was one of the most enjoyable lines from the original Shrek.  There was something inherently hilarious about a Lord Farquaad torturing the Gingerbread Man, and when the prisoner utters that plea, the audience howls with laughter.  In Shrek 2, the Gingerbread Man is back at a MUCH larger scale, much like everything else in the film.  Shrek 2 turns it up to 11 and it is the best sequel that Dreamworks Animation has pulled off.  Shrek and Fiona are back from their honeymoon and on their way to Far Far Away.  This whimsical tale is a great example of superb storytelling and is a complete visual feast. It doesn’t quite surpass the sheer joy and perfection of the first film, but it is definitely a worthy successor.

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How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

Pixar has masterfully crafted their mission statement to make movies that are poignant for adults but cute and fun enough for children.  This approach has been enormously successful (Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up) and has produced near-perfect film experiences.  However, DreamWorks Animation seems to focus on gripping onto a childlike fascination and forgoing the maturation of their storylines.  Sort of a way of bringing out the inner child of the adult audience members instead of appealing to their adultness.

This approach is no more obvious than with How to Train Your Dragon.  A story about a fictional European culture who share their world with dragons is childish absurdity.  The creativeness and rendering of the Island of Berk is astonishing.   When Hiccup builds that harness and begins to fly with Toothless, every adult in the audience melts and wishes they could do the same thing.  It is much like Bastian riding Falcor in The Neverending Story.  It is that exciting.  Also, special mention has to go to John Powell’s score.  More so than any other Dreamworks Animation film, the music stirs the soul and excited the imagination.

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Megamind (2010)

Somehow Despicable Me has become a worldwide phenomenon.  It has made billions of dollars across several films and spinoffs. Megamind is the far superior supervillain-gone-good film.  Unfortunately, it remains forgotten and un-sequelized.  But why?  The film made more than $300 Million worldwide.  The story is Will Ferrell as the titular villain and he finally defeats Metro Man (Brad Pitt).  What is a super-villain to do without his arch nemesis?  It is a great story and Ferrell does a fantastic job.  Watching Brad Pitt go all Hancock with his Metro Man is also a hoot.  It is just a huge shame that Megamind never got its due.

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Shrek (2001)

This is the movie that brought Dreamworks Animation to the forefront and showed us that they are Pixar’s more subversive cousin.  Shrek is pitch perfect and Dreamworks has never done better.  Every voice actor does a superb job, with particular props to a hilarious Eddie Murphy. The animation is beautiful, even by today’s standards.  However, the film’s true brilliance comes from how it skewers the traditional Disney tropes. Being trapped in a dragon’s tower is obvious, pointing out how ridiculous that scenario, which Shrek does several times, is hilarious.  The film is always rapid-firing at Disney and its fairy tales, but there is the necessary heart so it all comes together wonderfully.

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Weekend: Dec. 20, 2018, Dec. 23, 2018

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