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DreamWorks Face

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Not just for DreamWorks, though.note 

"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)
DreamWorks representative, short webcomic

You know that face. The clever, asymmetrical smirk. The similarly crooked eyebrows. The half-closed eyes. 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 from what we are 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. 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, American Kirby Is Hardcore, Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You.


    open/close all folders 

  • Isaiah Mustafa as The Man Your Man Could Smell Like in the Old Spice commercials, especially when he's on a horse.
  • The red M&M has this expression permanently etched onto his face in advertisements, reflecting his sarcastic personality.

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • This expression has become an iconic image of The Tick.
  • Superboy/Kon-El has a habit of grinning or smirking while raising an eyebrow at friend or foe alike when making sarcastic quips. He also makes such an expression to the viewer on a couple of covers.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Trope Namer is, obviously, DreamWorks Animation, who uses this face in most of its film posters, where it may also be the Trope Codifier. The image above explains it.
  • Sometimes used in Pixar's posters.
    • Buzz Lightyear does it in the posters for all of the Toy Story films. At least the face is pretty much in-character for him, and he makes it in the actual film — it's the expression he was molded with, in fact, and wears whenever he's inanimate. On the poster for Toy Story 3, Woody and Mr. Potato Head also have the expression.
    • The poster for Cars had Lightning McQueen 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—justified, as it's to show audiences that the college-age overconfident jock we see in this movie isn't the kind, gentle adult Sulley audiences know from Monsters, Inc.. Mike, however, can't make it, having only one eye of course.
    • Coco: Miguel makes this expression both on the movie's posters, and in the movie proper where he raises his eyebrow and smirks goofily when trying to imitate Ernesto's facial expression captured on a record cover.
    • In Turning Red, Mei makes the face during the epilogue when her friends show up.
  • Disney's been doing this more often since the early 2000's (not coincidentally around the time Shrek came out).
  • 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.
  • Dracula does this face for the poster of Hotel Transylvania.
  • The face has even come into use in Eastern Animation, as seen on this poster for the film Anahit, Armenia's first full-length animated feature. The dog beside the title character bears the face.
  • Posters for The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water has SpongeBob doing it as the Invincibubble.
  • Plenty of promotional artwork for My Little Pony: A New Generation has Hitch Trailblazer pulling this off.
  • SpaceChimps.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In Animator Nancy Beiman's "Animated Performance" book, this expression is briefly mentioned as an example of a cliche expression that should be avoided. It also sets up a gag where a guy making this expression gets hit with a pie in the face to make him don a more specific expression.
  • Done on the cover of the Ally Carter book Heist Society.
  • Harry Potter seems to be stuck doing it for seven years on the cover of the german books.
  • Artwork depicting the Discworld's Machiavellian tyrant Lord Vetinari almost invariably features the steepled fingers, the quizzical expression - and the single raised eyebrow.

    Live-Action TV 

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • This trope is Older Than They Think. The show logo in the opening for early 90s cartoon Little Dracula featured the protagonist's face making this expression.
  • The term is directly used in a storyboard for the Regular Show episode "Cruisin'".
    Rigby: (Struggling to talk and hold the expression) Dude, this isn't going to work, no human ever makes this face.
  • 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 Ren & Stimpy Show does make use of the Fascinating Eyebrow, though, usually when Ren is feeling smug or slightly annoyed.
  • The promotional images for Archer all feature the titular character making this face whilst all the other characters make neutral or disgruntled facial expressions. Might be deliberately invoked, as Archer is a textbook narcissist and everyone around him is perpetually frustrated by his personality.
  • Penn Zero makes this face nearly every time he's seen smiling.
  • Littlest Pet Shop guest character Harold Winston of "In the Loop" has his eyebrows stuck in this position about 90% of the time.
  • Lampshaded in the season 3 premiere episode of of Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh where, among the Long List of seemingly arbitrary rules the Boov have, making that face is expressly forbidden.
  • In Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, Po is shown with this expression in his wanted posters. He protests it looks nothing like him.

  • Guess what real-life animation figure was known for doing this himself decades before DreamWorks or even its founder were conceived: Walt Disney! His habit of raising one eyebrow out of intrigue was later used for Yensid, a character already based on him.
  • Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson did it so much in his WWE days that his logos made the expression. Although normally he didn't do the half-grin, just the eyebrow.
    • On the poster for the intercontinental title match of WWE Extreme Rules 2016, Miz and Cesaro do it side by side.
  • Ever-so-subtly used by Montréal mayoral candidate Mélanie Joly in her promotional images during the 2013 municipal election.
  • Jeopardy! contestant Colby Burnett seems to have one.
  • Famously dreamy Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau often makes this face.
    • The much less dreamy former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, makes it often, too.

Alternative Title(s): Smarm Brow