Created By: ShotaDecember 26, 2010 Last Edited By: TheTroperTeen93October 2, 2011
Troped

Dreamworks Face

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Trope

You know that face. The clever, asymmetrical smirk. The similarly crooked eyebrows. The intense stare-down to you from the promo posters. It's the expression that tells you the hero is going to be up to no good, and is too cool for any of that classic, mainstream, conformational wimps those other studios produce... except the character him or herself never makes that face to begin with in the show! It's usually a way to get audiences to see their films and promises a very different tone than what we're used to. It's the facial expression form of hip, sassy and snarky dialogue.

This trope pertains to faces seen outside of the body of the film or TV show and only in marketing material... in posters, billboards, ads, etc. Otherwise, it would be a No Fourth Wall (since a character usually looks straight forward) or an Aside Glance.

Named after this memetic picture, that originally tried to prove how generic the Dreamworks movie concepts are, including their posters. As others pointed out in reaction, Disney-Pixar, and practically every other studio also uses this face. So, even though it's not a Dreamworks-exclusive trope, it is still commonly associated with them.

Examples

  • The Looney Tunes did this a lot of times in show cards and cel artwork, especially in Chuck Jones' work, making this Older Than They Think.
  • The minimalist poster for Tangled had Rapunzel and Flynn side by side, looking at the audience deviously behind a sea of hair, so you had to guess exactly what they were doing behind it. Those who see the film know that Rapunzel is actually polite and cheery at heart and only rarely gets devious when necessary. The poster's actually pretty creepy.
  • Used in every (or most) Dreamworks animated film posters, where it may be the Trope Codifier. The image above explains it.
    • Moviebob blew a fuse over this in his already-not-too-positive review of Shrek 4: "Everyone. Wears. The same. Fucking. Smirk.", with each word illustrated by a screenshot of a Dream Works character.
  • Sometimes used in Pixar's posters. Lightning McQueen and even Buzz Lightyear, in particular. The poster for Cars had Lightning covered in a vehicle hood with only the corner lifted to reveal the smile.
  • Disney's been doing this more often lately. Ads for Bolt, Meet The Robinsons, and Home On The Range all included this. The dot-eyed Chicken Little even managed to do this sometimes.
  • Horton does this on the poster for Blue Sky's Horton Hears A Who. It's more jarring if you're only familiar with the humbler Horton from the 1970's Chuck Jones special!
  • Planet 51
  • In webcomics, the artist of Lackadaisy uses this look as an example of something to unlearn while improving your drawing skills! Namely, illustrating a character smacking another so that his eyebrows fall off.

Community Feedback Replies: 47
  • December 27, 2010
    ZombieAladdin
    Perhaps it'd be better as "Dream Works Facial Expression." Or is it too long?

    I like this one, but I have to wonder how many examples there can be. How To Train Your Dragon averted it, but MegaMind, made after the image above, played it straight.
  • December 27, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    Recommend cropping the image to just the faces.
  • December 27, 2010
    dotchan
    This is Fascinating Eyebrow + Cheshire Cat Grin. Is it a legitamite trope on its own?
  • December 27, 2010
    ssfsx17
    A Cheshire Cat Grin is supposed to be threatening and involves a lot of teeth showing. It is in no way a superset of the Dream Works Face
  • December 27, 2010
    troacctid
    I saw the Nostalgia Chick video and she does seem to make a good case that this is a valid pattern in advertising. *shrug*
  • December 27, 2010
    Deboss
    Goofy Grin Ad might work better as a title, something promoting that it's an advertisement trope.
  • December 27, 2010
    archie
    Moviebob blew a fuse over this in his already-not-too-positive review of Shrek 4: "Everyone. Wears. The same. Fucking. Smirk.", with each word illustrated by a screenshot of a Dream Works character.
  • December 27, 2010
    Shota
    Agreed that the title should include some hint that it's for ads only.

    Archie, that Shrek 4 example would work if he was talking about the smirks in ads, and nowhere in the actual movie.
  • December 27, 2010
    archie
    @Shota: Well, the screencaps were from the posters, and Bob's rant was about the overall Dream Works style.
  • December 27, 2010
    TwinBird
    The original Trollface, although the smiley has a symmetrical grin.
  • December 27, 2010
    Prinzenick
    "Dreamworks Smirk" would be a better title if you ask me.
  • December 28, 2010
    Zulfiqar
    I dunno, on /co/ it's usually called a "Dream Works Face". Calling it a "Dream Works Smirk" or a "Goofy Grin Ad" sounds a bit Call A Rabbit A Smeerp to me. Though that's, like, my personal opinion, man.
  • December 31, 2010
    AurumFemina
    Notably, this trope is actually Older Than They Think, with animation figures such as Chuck Jones using this face.

    Perhaps a better image would be appropriate? It could be considered ironic, as Pixar can be guilty of this as well, especially considering Buzz's default face is a Dreamworks Face.
  • December 31, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Horton does it in the poster for the 2008 film of Horton Hears A Who.
  • January 1, 2011
    Zulfiqar
    DreamWorks isn't an Ur Example, of course, but it's surely the Trope Codifier. Of course, the article should note that the face isn't only used by DreamWorks.

    As for the picture, I suggest cropping the examples from OP's picture. Or, if someone's not lazy, compile a more representative version from all the examples listed.
  • January 1, 2011
    Scardoll
    If this trope is actually going to exist, it should be renamed to something that isn't studio specific.

    "Fascinating Smirk" describes the desired effect and the reason they put it on marketing.

    "Asymmetrical Smirk" describes the facial expression very well.

    "Marketing Smirk" shows that this is a trope mainly found in marketing.

    "Troll Smirk" is a bit internet-specific, but it gets off the sort of tone that the smirk conveys.
  • January 1, 2011
    troacctid
    It's okay to have a Trope Namer as long as it meets the standards for Trope Namers. Mentioning "Dreamworks" in the title isn't inherently bad as long as the title is still indicative of the trope. Whether that's true in this case is up for debate, but if this is already being closely associated with Dreamworks outside of this wiki, it's probably acceptable.
  • January 2, 2011
    dangerwaffle
    Yeah, I've always heard this called Dream Works Face and would find another name confusing and unnecessary. If we used another name I might have to stop and think about what expression it's referring to, but call it "Dreamworks Face" and I know exactly what you mean. It appears plenty of other places, but it's still most closely associated with Dreamworks today.
  • January 9, 2011
    SomeSortOfTroper
  • January 9, 2011
    Motmot
    I guess expressions have troped before, but I'm not sure this is tropable either. One eyebrow up and smiling is really a typical expression used to show attitude (or in the case of the Tangled poster, two arched eyebrows and a smile... Wait, is that even really an example?). Perhaps take a different angle with this, such as one on attitude/snarky characters in marketing.

    Also I'm pretty sure the joke about what Rapunzel and Flynn are doing Nostalgia Chick made was meant to be random or shocking rather than actually describe the poster (or I could be wrong, but I don't see it). I'm not sure it's worth mentioning on the page unless you attribute that comment to her specifically.
  • January 10, 2011
    MrDeath
    This isn't a trope. This stems from some jackass trying to say that all Dreamworks movies are the same because they apparently boil down to "non-human does human things and makes this face."
  • January 11, 2011
    peccantis
    ^ tropes typical to one creator/producer/studio are still tropes. We have Gainaxing and Gainax Ending.

    Megamind posters and promo material also have this, with all three central characters.
  • January 11, 2011
    GracieLizzie
    I think it is a trope as it a very common expression on movie posters, especially CGI ones. But it's hardly Dreamworks exclusive and the picture used here as a take that at Dreamworks seems unfair.

    How about Mischievous Eyebrow Advert?
  • January 11, 2011
    kyun
  • January 11, 2011
    troacctid
    The page image is unreadable. Also, it's a terrible image.
  • January 11, 2011
    Shota
    Changed the title and altered some content. If the image above indeed doesn't describe the trope, someone else will need to replace it with something else.
  • January 11, 2011
    NateTheGreat
    Examples of "Goofy Grin" and examples of "Clever Smirk" are two different tropes. They aren't the same at all (for one thing, Goofy Grins don't imply arcing eyebrows). And this trope is not about Goofy Grins.
  • January 12, 2011
    SomeSortOfTroper
    Oh please just call it the Dreamworks Face. For one thing, it's just so hard to describe what it is (grin? smirk? o-face?) without just pointing to a Dreamworks animated feature poster. Plus the name is already established. Plus the name related the impact of a single studio on this tropes occurrence.

    Plus, don't change a YKTTW's name. It makes it harder to find. If you're going to name it something else, wait till you launch it.
  • January 12, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    Keep Dreamworks Face, it's a preexisting term.

    The picture is bad, wait a few minutes until I make a better collage.

  • January 12, 2011
    Shota
    Okay, I won't change the name. We'll probably also need more examples though.
  • January 12, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    replaced the picture with another one that doesn't insult pixar, and bigger.
  • January 12, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    wrote a paragraph explaining the old picture
  • January 12, 2011
    Stratadrake
    September, is this really a pre-exiting term? Google scores only 2,000 hits for the exact phrase, which is fairly uncommon (though said hits are pretty much spot on).
  • January 12, 2011
    pinkdalek
    Name a term for this that gets more hits. And they're all about this trope. Go on.

    EDIT: This post says the internal name used by the animators themselves is 'Cal Arts Face'.
  • January 12, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    ^ Only 8 Google results for that, it's probably an in-joke between that poster and some other animators.
  • January 12, 2011
    kyun
    "Cal Arts Face" is used by actual animators?!

    THAT can't be good!
  • January 12, 2011
    Shota
    Oh wait. By "other animators", you mean "John K." Nevermind. :P
  • January 12, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    I'd call it Cinematic Poster Smirk or something similar.
  • January 24, 2011
    OOZE
    Why the hell would you rename it? Dreamworks Face is just what it's called.
  • January 24, 2011
    peccantis
    I'm for Dreamworks Face or Dreamworks Smirk. Any other non-studio-specific titles (that would be reasonably short) would strip the title of its trope-like meaning as an expression associated with one studio -- something like Asymmetrical Smirk would indicate People Sit On Chairs.

    Literature:
    • Readers of Dragon Lance books are reminded every few pages that Kitiara's feature facial reaction, indeed, is an oblique smirk.
  • January 24, 2011
    ChimbleySweep
    Dreamworks Face sounds like a medical condition. "Timmy has contracted bilateral facial numenosis or.. Dreamworks Face." "Dear God!"
  • January 24, 2011
    troacctid
    ^ Lol
  • January 24, 2011
    Ryusui
    We should call this Smarm Brow, just because Tracy Butler invented just the perfect term for it.
  • January 25, 2011
    shimaspawn
    Weird error. Ignore.
  • January 25, 2011
    shimaspawn
    This trope was cut before for being just one long take that at Dreamworks. If launched in it's current state with it's current title it will just be cut again. You don't need to write a trope just to make fun of one studio and one facial expression. Most of the examples aren't from the studio in question and the description of the trope seems to be just wailing about how this facial expression is a bad thing. Change the name and cut out the bile or this is just going to get chopped a second time.
  • January 25, 2011
    EternalSeptember
    ^ What bile? The description explains how it is not really a Dreamworks-exclusive trope, the page image was replaced with a more neutral one, and the example list having non-dreamworks examples is a Good Thing, it supports that it's not a studio-specific trope.

    The title doesn't say anything about why it wwould be a negative thing, either. With that reasoning, we could rename anything that has a Trope Namer, because the trope can be used critically, and it would be a Take That against the trope namer?
  • January 25, 2011
    Shota
    Not to mention how it's recommended you do not change the title of a trope on YKTTW until it launches. This is unfortunate, as there is no guarantee it will ever launch. Once it does, we can change the title willy-nilly.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable