Dreamworks Animation Retrospective – SA221
One response to “Dreamworks Animation Retrospective – SA221”
Excellent retrospective on a somewhat mediocre studio filmography. It is apparent, from my opening statement, that I agree mostly with Ben. (Although I am completely in Camp Evan regarding Prince of Egypt–C’mon Ben, dust it off and watch it again! It will be worth your time. Interesting note: To avoid the very “God Problem” in the burning bush scene that Ben was referring to, they actually recorded a mix of ALL the actors voices to portray God, but then realized they had to bring one to the front, and chose Kilmer’s. That explains why it sounds so wispy and effect driven. Truth be told, just like Evan, I kinda like the final product.)
But on to Dreamworks, in General.
This is going to get long, but as you guys were talking, I was reminded of a Blog post I wrote way back in 2006.
So I looked it up, and I feel like it still sums up my thoughts on the “Dreamworks Dilemma.” pretty well.
Here is the pasted text:
In Praise of all things Pixar
One of the frightening aspects of Netflix is that it allows us to rent a film we will probably hate, just to prove our deepest fears and give us something to Blog about.
This week, we rented “Madagascar”.
What is it about DreamWorks that makes their animated features seem so…smarmy?
Whenever my family catches the latest Pixar release, we usually leave the theater feeling upbeat, entertained, and even a little thoughtful.
If we subject ourselves to fare from DreamWorks, we end up feeling let down, worn-out, and just a little bit used.
Why is this? How can two studios working with similar technology, with access to the same talent pool, come out with such completely different levels of quality?
I think it comes down to a question of Attitude.
With Pixar, it’s always about the story.
With Dreamworks, it’s always about the stars.
Compare the cast list of, say, “Finding Nemo” (Not Pixar’s Best Film, but a good example of why my son calls them the “No-Losers” Studio…) with the list from “Shark Tale” (One of the worst pieces of self-indulgent tripe I have ever vomited through.)
Finding Nemo: (Pixar)
MARLIN – Albert Brooks
DORY – Ellen DeGeneres
GILL – Willem Dafoe
NEMO – Alexander Gould
BRUCE – Barry Humphries
BLOAT – Brad Garrett
CRUSH – Andrew Stanton
SHELDON – Erik Per Sullivan
FISH SCHOOL – John Ratzenberger
Not exactly no-names…But we don’t jump out of our seat and say, “Hey! That’s Willem Dafoe doing that voice!” In the movie, he’s just, “Gill.”
Shark Tale: (DreamWorks)
OSCAR – Will Smith
LOLA – Angelina Jolie (Aaaaaargh!)
ANGIE – Renee Zellweger
LENNY – Jack Black
DON LINO – Robert De Nir0
LUCA – Martin Scorsese
Katie “Current” – Katie Couric (PLEASE! Just kill me now.)
See the difference? Pixar spends about three years, writing, boarding, & even pre-editing. Then, finally, they cast the voice actors to match the roles, famous or not.
Dreamworks grabs a bunch of snobbish, Hollywood elite and spends about a week throwing together a two-bit story line around whatever animal-manifestation of the stars’ personae they can come up with. (“I know! I know! Let’s make Robert De Niro a Mafia Shark!”)
Then, to make it worse, they all appear with Katie Nut-Job on the Today show to say,”Hee-hee…look at us! We made a CARTOON! Isn’t that just SOooooo Cute?”
Here’s more evidence:
The Incredibles: (Best Pixar film…EVER.)
BOB PARR/MR. INCREDIBLE – Craig T. Nelson
HELEN PARR/ELASTIGIRL – Holly Hunter
LUCIUS BEST/FROZONE – Samuel L. Jackson
BUDDY PINE/SYNDROME – Jason Lee
DASHIELL PARR (DASH) – Spencer Fox
VIOLET PARR – Sarah Vowell
EDNA MODE – Brad Bird
UNDERMINER – John Ratzenberger
Until last night, my son didn’t even know that Samuel L. Jackson played Frozone. That’s how good the movie was.
ALEX THE LION – Ben Stiller
MARTY THE ZEBRA – Chris Rock
GLORIA THE HIPPO – Jada Pinkett-Smith
MELMAN THE GIRAFFE – David Schwimmer (…as Ross Gellar)
MORT – Andy Richter
KING JULIEN – Sacha Baron Cohen
MAURICE – Cedric the Entertainer
Once again, the film just seems thrown together to give the actors, (not even the characters) something to do.
Oops, and there’s Pinkett-Smith this time, again on the Today Show, with Katie slobbering all over her…
“Oh, Jada, (Tee-hee) You’re just SO thin and beautiful…Was is Hard for you to play…(Chuckle, snort) a…a… a HIPPO?”
(The entire today crew breaks down in an orgiastic display of in-group back slapping.)
Which brings us around to the issue of promotion.
Pixar: Cute, clever set-up shorts of the Characters in the MOVIE.
Dreamworks: Shots of the STARS with Headphones on.
Yes. I GET it already, Will. You’re in the studio, doing voice-over for a freakish looking fish, that they had to make look JUST LIKE YOU so I wouldn’t miss the fact that you made a STINKIN” CARTOON!
OK, catch my breath. This was supposed to be about “Madagascar”
The Penguins were good. There. I said it…
…and I didn’t even recognize the voices who played them.
Pixar sets out above all to make Great Stories into Great Films.
Their goal is to entertain us.
DreamWorks sets out to give Will Smith and company a cute, new toy to play with.
Their goal is to entertain themselves.
Take note, Bob Iger.
Please don’t mess up the franchise.