: "Uhh... There are talking animals. And they do things animals don't normally do. And they all make this face." *holds up picture of guy smirking*
You know that face. The clever, asymmetrical smirk
. The similarly crooked eyebrows
. The intense stare-down that comes at you from the promo posters. It's the expression that tells you the hero is going to be up to no good, and is much cooler than any of those classic, mainstream, conformist wimps those other
studios produce... except the character him or herself never, or rarely, makes that face to begin with in the show! It's usually a way to get audiences to see a particular film over another, 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
or an Aside Glance
Films produce advertising and posters as various stages of production and all of these are meant to be teasers. The stuff that comes first is normally dominated by faces staring at you because that's the only thing finalized at that point (if all the poster maker knows is that the film stars Sean Connery and he shoots some people, then all we're going to get is Sean Connery Is Going To Shoot You
). So the DreamWorks Face is one of numerous stock attractive faces. For instance, you may have also seen the "everyone is smiling, bright eyes and maybe waving at you".
See also Mascot with Attitude
, though in this case the character needn't have attitude in the actual work. Moe Stare
is a similar trope in how it advertises by appealing to emotion (in that case, a Warm And Fuzzy Feeling
rather than a challenge.) Related to American Kirby Is Hardcore
, since some of the same forces fueling the tropes are at work.
- 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 DreamWorks character.
- Sometimes used in Pixar's posters.
- Lightning McQueen and even Buzz Lightyear, in particular. At least with Buzz the face is pretty much in-character for him, and he makes it in the actual film.
- The poster for Cars had Lightning covered in a vehicle hood with only the corner lifted to reveal the smile.
- The poster◊ for Cars 2 included all four main characters doing it now!
- The Poster for Monsters University has the younger Sulley doing it.
- Disney's been doing this more often lately.
- Horton does this on the poster◊ for Blue Sky Studios' Horton Hears a Who!. It's more jarring if you're only familiar with the humbler Horton from the 1970s Chuck Jones special!
- Two of the DVD◊ art choices◊ for Coraline, with the same art on the DVD cases. This is a curious case, as the posters released before the movie had Coraline in a suspicious or frightened expression◊ to tell viewers that this is will be scarier than a typical family film. While she is normally a sarcastic girl, she does spend the majority of the film scared.
- Planet 51.
- Balto on the cover for Wolf Quest in heavy contrast to the bold, noble gaze seen advertising the first movie.
- Jimmy Neutron rather noticeably makes one on the movie poster of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
- While the gang don't use the face for the poster of Recess: School's Out, they do use it for the video and DVD cover.
- All the characters (except Wayne the werewolf, bless him) do this face for the poster of Hotel Transylvania.
- Term is directly used in a storyboard for the Regular Show episode "Cruisin'"
- Explicitly avoided in John Kricfalusi's cartoons—he hates this expression so much that he forbids any of his artists from ever drawing it—and that includes any expression that even remotely resembles it, including non-cocky smirks or eyebrows raised out of curiosity. The Renand Stimpy Show does make use of the Fascinating Eyebrow, though, usually when Ren is feeling smug.
- A drawing tutorial in Lackadaisy calls this "the Smarm Brow" and lists it among "things to unlearn". The character making this face gets smacked so hard his eyebrows pop off.
- Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson did it so much in his WWE days that his logos made the expression.
- Ever-so-subtly used by Montréal mayoral candidate Mélanie Joly in her promotional images during the 2013 municipal election.