The time when people thought that Dreamworks Animation might hold an artistic candle to Pixar is probably past. The hollow (if sometimes amusing) spectacle of this weekend's Monsters vs. Aliens will probably put that notion to rest for a while longer. Where Pixar always emphasized story, emotion and artistry, Dreamworks went a more straightforwardly commercial route, confusing movie stars with voice actors and generally going for broad parody instead of anything more complicated and difficult.
Which is not to say some of their movies haven't been clever. I thought the first Madagascar was funny and inventive, and all the Shreks had varying amounts of charm. I'm curious what the consensus Dreamworks Animation favorite is, so I created this poll. I've excluded their early traditional-animation flicks for space, and the Aardman co-production Flushed Away, 'cause I don't really think that one counts. Weigh in below!
I've cast the first vote. My pick? Absolutely no contest: it's Antz, Dreamworks' first foray into computer animation and by far their best. All of their other films are characterized by snark, sarcasm, and a total lack of dramatic ambition; they're sporadically funny larks. Antz is a movie -- funny, but also sad, exciting, and memorable. And that opening pan through the ant colony, set to Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell's rousing score, is as spectacular as anything in Monsters vs. Aliens, eleven years earlier. I think it holds up against almost any Pixar release, except maybe Monsters, Inc.