20. MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN (2014)
One of the most peculiar properties to be adapted into a movie in recent years – how many kids today even know Rocky and Bullwinkle, let alone their supporting characters? – the movie succeeded solely due to Ty Burrell’s spot-on voice work as the brilliant inventor of the WABAC machine and the dog-father to a detrimentally curious human son.
19. SINBAD: LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS (2003)
In the early ‘00s, if a DreamWorks Animation movie didn’t have Shrek in the title, audiences weren’t interested; in the case of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, it didn’t help that the movie was a simply adequate adventure, the DreamWorks equivalent of Disney’s Treasure Planet.
18. BEE MOVIE (2007)
At its best, Bee Movie tapped into the same rich, observational comedy that Antz had nearly a decade earlier, with Jerry Seinfeld taking over insectile duties from Woody Allen. At its worst, its out-of-left-field final act had the same depressing tone and narrative departure of the gloomy last third of Happy Feet.
17. MADAGASCAR (2005)
Just when it seemed like DreamWorks couldn’t land a hit without putting a green ogre in it, Madagascar’s zoo story of a lion, a zebra, a hippo, and a giraffe leaving the Central Park Zoo and crashing on the titular African island came along. What really made the movie work were the dynamics between the four principals, as well as the loony merriment contributed by Sasha Baron Cohen.
16. HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 (2014)
It covered much of the same territory as the first movie, with many of the same gags, and even framed its story with the same bookending narration, but the sequel to 2010’s unexpected hit delivered a solid product, if one that still served to remind that the (unoriginal) original did it better.
15. PUSS IN BOOTS (2011)
It was a bold move to transplant the supporting fan-favourite from the Shrek series to his own tale, but Puss in Boots was aided by a wonderfully tragic vision of Humpty Dumpty given emotional heft and dangerous lunacy by Zach Galifianakis. By being unafraid to leave Shrek behind, it actually surpassed all of Shrek’s true sequels.
14. SHARK TALE (2004)
On the one hand, you could easily argue that plotting a family-friendly piece of animation around the Mafia, loan sharks, gambling debts, and Renee Zellweger was a dangerous risk. On the other hand, the delights in hearing Martin Scorsese as a bushy-browed blowfish or seeing loan sharks that are actual sharks demonstrated a sharper mind than the more emotionally satisfying Finding Nemo.
13. MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (2009)
While it took a while for its eccentric tone to blend with its exaggerated animation and goofy script, once Monsters vs. Aliens found that sweet spot, it was hard to resist. Seth Rogen was perfect as the brainless B.O.B. and Stephen Colbert made for one of the funniest on-screen presidents since Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
12. SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (2002)
A daring vision went a long way toward separating this movie from its animated brethren. Matt Damon provided the thoughts of the horse of the title, but Spirit didn’t speak so much as narrate his own story. Between the shrewd storytelling device and the bold (for its time) marriage of computer animation and hand-drawn cels, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron did what few had done before and did it well.
11. FLUSHED AWAY (2006)
After bringing his talent with Claymation to the DreamWorks table with Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, animator Nick Park was tasked with creating the look of his stop-motion creatures using CGI instead of Plasticine. An amusing sewer caper featuring the voice work of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Ian McKellen, Flushed Away was sadly overshadowed by the inferior Ratatouille