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DreamWorks’ Plight

by on September 21, 2009

People were stunned earlier this year when DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda” swept the Annie Awards while Pixar’s “Wall-E” didn’t win in a single category. While quality is subjective and people are entitled to believe that “Wall-E” was the superior film, I was somewhat disturbed by the number of people who refused to give DreamWorks’ any credit; who refused to believe that – maybe – DreamWorks had a quality film on their hands that deserved the accolades. Instead, they claimed that the awards had to be rigged because DreamWorks was a gold sponsor while Pixar was a silver sponsor. However, I think that the problem – the real problem – is that many people consider DreamWorks to be a second-class citizen; that DreamWorks will always be inferior to Pixar.

Perhaps there is some truth to that. Pixar is an oddity, having released hit after hit, achieving both critical acclaim and the box office bounty to go along with it. They know how to take risks and they pour a ton of passion into each and every movie, while DreamWorks, on the other hand, takes a more calculated approach to their movies. However, animation is a business; the methodical process at DreamWorks may not always produce the same results as Pixar, but they have proven time and time again that they can make movies that the populace at large is interested in watching. They have had a few duds, to be sure, but many of their movies have been successful because they were quality films; “Kung Fu Panda” is probably the best example of that.

“Kung Fu Panda” was a genuinely good film. It had interesting characters, an emotional story, a solid soundtrack and it looked damn good as well. It was also funny, without employing the pop culture reference that critics of DreamWorks insisted that they relied upon too much. Also, despite having an overweight panda as a main character, they didn’t use a single fart joke despite the fact that it would have been oh so easy to put in. When you consider the movie in its entirety, it was handled masterfully, yet when it won all of those awards, few people felt that it deserved them. Such is life for DreamWorks. Even when they make a movie that can compete with some of Pixar’s best, they can’t get any respect.

What is the reason for this? If people simply preferred Pixar over DreamWorks, what is with all of the negativity? DreamWorks has been getting poor treatment long before what happened at the Annie Awards; people have criticized them for all sorts of things, such as their usage of celebrities or their love of sequels, but they weren’t the first studio to do that and they certainly won’t be the last. Shouldn’t all that matters be whether or not their movies are good? Unfortunately, a lot of people have refused to watch their movies based on their preconceived notions about their quality, but perhaps that will change in time. I recall a comment that somebody made on our forums.

Believe it or not I picked up both Madagascar films earlier today and really enjoyed them both, especially the second one. Didn’t know I could enjoy a DreamWorks film this much.

Perhaps if more people were willing to give their movies a chance, they would see that they are quite capable in their own right.  I suspect that most people will continue to favor Pixar over DreamWorks.  Though, hopefully more will find it possible to appreciate quality films, regardless of which studio they come from.  As for what happened at the Annie Awards, I guess we’ll never know how it all went down, but I have to wonder if people would have been any more receptive to the success of DreamWorks and “Kung Fu Panda” if “Wall-E” had actually won in a few categories.  Somehow I doubt that anything would have changed.

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