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YMMV / DreamWorks Animation

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  • Animation Age Ghetto: The studio's relationship to this trope is... complicated, to say the least. Their sense of snarky and often times sexual humor and broad appeal have brought in legions of adult fans, but their films are almost always conceived and marketed for younger audiences. Even the relatively more "mature" films like The Prince of Egypt, How to Train Your Dragon, and the Shrek series are clearly meant to be family-friendly, when not flat-out sanitized (like with the various reductions or flat-out omissions of LGBT characters in adapted works). This reputation (as well as their failed attempt at prime time television) has labeled CGI as mostly kiddie fare and arguably has played a key-part in their decline as other studios either made their kid-friendly stances clear or have dared to become bolder.
  • Broken Base:
    • The fans who wish they would do traditional animation again, even some who want them to be exclusively traditional, versus those who prefer their All-CGI Cartoon works.
    • The sale of the studio to NBCUniversal. While some in the media biz, including some of NBCUniversal's own competitors (particularly Viacom), praised the sale as a well-organized strategy to take on Disney, others, particularly animators, historians, animation fans and amateurs, fretted over a hypothetical Seasonal Rot of DreamWorks' future projects under their new owners. This is especially evident with the Hype Backlash Universal's Despicable Me received years prior due to the oversaturation of the Minions in pop culture. The news that Illumination Entertainment head Chris Meledandri, who produced Despicable Me, would replace Katzenberg as DWA CEO after the sale was completed only added to the division given his mixed record in animation production. On the financial side, some analysts criticized the $3.8 billion price tag as overpriced, believing that Comcast could never recoup the money it paid for the studio due to the studio's dwindling value even if NBCUniversal took DWA's intellectual property and milked it to the fullest potential. Then there are those who feel the deal was a sellout and that NBCUniversal should have paid more; one of DWA's shareholders on this side sued Katzenberg, alleging he made a side deal to benefit himself while leaving minority shareholders in the dust.
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  • Complete Monster: General Mandible, Tzekel-Kan and Drago Bludvist. Go see their respective pages.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Puss in Boots was an extremely popular character with audiences in the Shrek series, so he got his own movie. And a TV seriesnote . In a similar vein, the penguins from Madagascar got their own TV series and got their own movie too. Same goes for King Julien.
    • The traditionally animated films. Despite many claims from Katzenberg that they were out of style, they are looked back on fondly and considered underrated classics.
    • Out of all the three genre parody movies (the other two being the hated Shark Tale and the So Okay, It's Average Monsters vs. Aliens), Megamind is the most popular and considered the only one done right. Despite the insistence that there will be no sequels to their genre parody movies, people have been begging for more Megamind installments.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With Pixar. Let's leave it at that.
    • Much more mildly but with Blue Sky Studios.
    • With Disney as expected. Many genuinely feel that Katzenberg created the company solely for revenge than for creative reasons citing Shrek as the prime example of it and it's sell to comcast as proof of not standing creatively as its own studio.
  • Follow the Leader: Earlier on in their history, before they decided to go in a "light fantasy" direction to counter Pixar's more "epic" films, they were notorious for copying the template of whatever Pixar film was being developed at the same time.
    • While DreamWorks were copying Pixar, everyone else was copying DreamWorks (Disney even joined the fray for a few movies). Shrek in 2001 was followed by numerous imitators, and its template pretty much defined what "animated fairy tale" meant for the rest of the decade. And that's not to mention the number of copycat studios that were created after DreamWorks proved that non-Disney feature animation could be profitable, a few of which are still around today.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Some of The New '10s' DWA films such as How to Train Your Dragon have seen their fanbases on good terms with a few Disney fandoms (it helps that the writer-directors of Dragon also did Lilo & Stitch.)
  • Growing the Beard: The general opinion of DreamWorks has gone from "Wannabe Disney/Pixar" to "A really good studio" after they stopped rehashing the Shrek formula and made better films such as Kung Fu Panda, Megamind, Kung Fu Panda 2, and How to Train Your Dragon. The studio has been largely shifting to less pop culture reference humor to more story centered work in their best films. That reputation grew still more in 2011 after Pixar eventually trip-up with Cars 2; at least everyone knows that DA as an independent studio needs to develop every Cash Cow Franchise it can to survive. To do that and still create great films while they are at it is a mark of its unpretentious artistic ambitions. However, with Penguins of Madagascar, Home, Trolls, and The Boss Baby each receiving lukewarm critical reception, they may be shaving the beard, although Kung Fu Panda 3 and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie were mostly well-received.
    • It sometimes seems as though they grow their beard out when they feel like it. They started with one with the very mature religious epic The Prince of Egypt, then shaved it off when they started making forgettable Shrek clones, and eventually re-grew it in The New '10s with more mature films like How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. However, due to their bloated production schedule of both types of films, Turbo and Home being released in-between the former's sequels see them regularly jump back and fourth between respectable and schlock.
    • Also applies to their television productions in the latter half of The New '10s and '20s. Their original or licensed productions, such as Tales of Arcadia, She-Ra and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, have largely been acclaimed and relatively popular, while their Recycled: The Series productions (often outsourced to other studios) are typically ignored or dismissed as toddler fodder.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In October 2015, Jeffrey Katzenberg was involved in a car accident that destroyed his Tesla car and hospitalized him with a broken arm. The Harsher in Hindsight trope comes into play when one realizes that this is nearly 10 years after Pixar/Disney animator Joe Ranft died in a car crash, which was 20 years after a valuable member of Disney's Nine Old Men, Wolfgang "Woolie" Reithermann, passed away in a car crash himself.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Never Live It Down: Katzenberg claiming that "traditional animation was likely a thing of the past" after the failure of Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. A lot of detractors derided him for this, stating it wasn't so much the animation then just a crowded market at the time and, considering how well the film blended 2D and CGI, was just a stepping stone that the styles could work well together. Plus, Sinbad's failure was more due to lack of appeal for the characters and story which was consider generic by most and a bit too mature for the family market (considering The Road to El Dorado's style of humor, it's clear they didn't take this lesson to heart at the time). Alas however, the companies all abandoned regular animation cause it was just the way others were going which many blame Katzenberg for contributing to that sentiment. DreamWorks would briefly return to traditional animation in 2018 with the short film Bird Karma.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: The infamy that Katzenberg and the studio got for creating films like Antz and Shark Tale, which didn't endear them to Disney or a handful of other people, never really went away and dragged on DWA all the way up to the sale to Comcast/Universal.
  • Periphery Demographic: Their brand of snarky, in-your-face humor has earned them plenty of adult fans, to the point that they're accused of doing it on purpose.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: When DreamWorks first went into producing their own animated films, they did so under the belief of being an alternative to Disney. Movies like Antz and The Prince of Egypt dealt with more "adult" topics that were then uncommon for Disney to cover. The unexpected success of Shrek, which was praised for its witty humor, good use of Celebrity Voice Actors, and ability to appeal to multiple age groups, as well as the decline of traditional animation led DreamWorks to try and duplicate its success with their future films. Unfortunately, this led to every other animation studio not named Pixar copying their schtick, including Disney with Chicken Little. Suddenly, DreamWorks went from being the innovator of Western Animation films to being the representation of everything wrong with it. This Forbes Article actually goes quite in depth with it.
    • On PDI's end, the morphing technique that they pioneered in the late 1980s became overused by the early 1990s.
  • They Copied It, So It Sucks!: Pixar fans (as well as a few non-Pixar fans and critics) have noticed in the beginning of DreamWorks Animation that they were copying Pixar. Some people have confused DreamWorks' cartoons with Pixar, but the studio has found its own voice in recent years. It's also telling when Disney played this card on THEM for their style, and got bit for it.
  • Uncanny Valley: Some of their human designs suffer from this for having exaggerated features but realistic surface textures. Though arguably, it's not as bad as when they had all of their characters be an Ink-Suit Actor.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: If not in story quality, DreamWorks definitely matches up to, if not outright surpasses at times, Pixar in this department.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • The Kung Fu Panda sequence of Master Oogway's death up till Po's despairing confession to Master Shifu about his deep self-loathing that the old Red Panda feels helpless to counter. In that sequence, DreamWorks Animation showed that it had recovered from its post-Shrek 2 creative nadir that drove away its partner, Aardman Animations, and learned how to make stories with profound emotional depth with a skill rivaling Pixar. That in turn made the blistering wuxia action to follow all the more powerful when you have grown to care about these characters.
    • How to Train Your Dragon, natch. If you're talking about single sequences of extraordinary emotional power, you can't go past 'Forbidden Friendship', the epic battle against the Red Death, and Hiccup waking up after the battle and discovering he's lost his left leg.
    • Trolls: World Tour may serve as one for not simply Dreamworks but Universal, given the poor failures of Cats and Dolittle.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?: Some of their casting choices are a bit weird.


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