Total Recall: The Best (and Worst) of DreamWorks Animation
RT runs down the studio's complete animated output.
Three years after crossing the $500 million mark with Madagascar, DreamWorks did it again with the sequel -- only this time, critics were more favorable, nudging Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa into Fresh territory thanks to reviews from the likes of Roger Ebert, who called it "a brighter, more engaging film than the original." Audiences agreed, purchasing nearly $585 million in tickets to see the further adventures of Alex, Marty, Melman, and their friends -- and securing a spot for Madagascar 3 on the studio's 2012 release schedule.
A year after delivering one of the biggest hits of 2001 with the irreverent Shrek, DreamWorks proved its versatility as a studio with Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, a "tradigital" combination of hand-drawn and computer-generated animation that stepped away from the loud tone and pop-culture gags of more current fare to deliver a wistful fable about independence, loyalty, and the value of tradition. Though critics tended to take issue with the Bryan Adams songs that dominated the soundtrack, they were generally charmed, if not bowled over: as Time Out's Derek Adams wrote, "there's not much of a story, the whole thing's a bit superficial, and there's little to laugh at, but it's still a refreshing change from the norm."
9. Flushed Away
The second in a pair of co-productions with Aardman, Flushed Away was originally supposed to be about pirates, but studio second-guessing led to several rounds of revisions -- and by the time the film reached theaters as a comedic look at class warfare between rats, a certain Johnny Depp-led franchise had proven that there was more of a market for pirate movies than previously thought. Flushed Away wasn't a Pirates of the Caribbean-sized hit, but for a 'toon with such strong British themes (including a subplot involving the World Cup), it did fairly well with American audiences -- and though Aardman's experiences with DreamWorks on the movie led to a split between the studios, the end result was still charming enough to earn a 73 percent Tomatometer rating, thanks to positive reviews from critics like the New York Times' A.O. Scott, who enjoyed its "exuberant and infectious silliness."