Launched in 1998 with Antz and The Prince of Egypt, DreamWorks Animation has gone from a Disney wannabe to one of the titans of modern animation.
Home, released on Friday, follows 30 movies from the studio over the last 17 years. A full review of Home will be posted tomorrow, but while getting ready to critique the latest from the animation giant, what better time to look back at how far the company has come, ranked from its biggest disappointment to its greatest legacy?
30. SHREK 2 (2004)
What was so great about the sharp-witted original was completely lost under a smothering bevy of pop culture parodies, subplots centered on supporting characters too weak to support them, and a meaner, more self-centered Shrek than the ogre audiences met in 2001.
29. TURBO (2013)
With a premise thinly stolen from Pixar’s Cars and a trite plot of a snail not listening to anyone who tells him he can’t be a race car, Turbo clearly wanted to be a hit, but offensive stereotypes and unfunny jokes left audiences in 2013 looking for the salt.
28. OVER THE HEDGE (2006)
Adapted from the daily comic strip of the same name, Over the Hedge was one of the first forgettable movies from DreamWorks Animation. The voice work wasn’t bad (particularly Steve Carell as a hyperactive squirrel), but the jokes never clicked and the material felt stale.
27. THE CROODS (2013)
DreamWorks Animation’s answer to the Ice Age movies centered on a family of cavemen and posited that Neanderthal fathers and daughters faced the same issues modern day families do. A few jokes landed smoothly, but The Croods never really cared about anything more than entertaining in the moment.
26. MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA (2008)
After the financial success of Shrek’s first two sequels, DWA decided to feed its second-biggest original hit, Madagascar, into the sequel machine. The jokes were about as funny the second time around, but the plot felt aimless and much of the energy was missing.
25. SHREK FOREVER AFTER (2010)
While not as blatantly attention-courting as Shrek 2, Shrek Forever After felt more dated than any in the series, with vocal contributions from Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, Kristen Schaal, and Ryan Seacrest all reeking of “current” casting desperation, in the hopes recognizable names would hide the weak writing.
24. MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED (2012)
The most lackadaisical in the trilogy, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted was more interested in just having a good time than in serving to stand as a solid movie, but got away with it for the most part simply due to its moments of inspired hilarity. It was too light for its own good, but had more way more charm than its predecessors.
23. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (2012)
Presenting a supergroup of holiday characters including Santa Claus, Jack Frost, and the Easter Bunny, Rise of the Guardians was a perfectly adequate piece of entertainment that just never quite reached the heights it seemed to aim for — surely not helped by a title easily confused with other movies like Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and Guardians of the Galaxy.
22. SHREK THE THIRD (2007)
As most third movies in a series do, Shrek the Third corrected many of the mistakes of Shrek 2 while still falling short of the heights reached in the original. The addition of Justin Timberlake added a fresh, youthful voice to the cast and a sharper comedic sensibility that played well with Mike Myers’ and Eddie Murphy’s.
21. PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR (2014)
While not quite as strong a spin-off as Puss in Boots, Penguins of Madagascar was aided by a script that played to the strengths of Madagascar’s comic foils. John Malkovich clearly relished getting to ham it up as a supervillain and the screenplay kept the pace just tight enough to never get boring.