DreamWorks has been delighting audiences with its unique brand of animation for nearly thirty years. Founded in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, it was created following a falling out between Katzenberg and the CEO of Disney, Michael Eisner. Their 2001 hit, Shrek, cemented them as a contender with Disney in animated films and confirmed 3D animation’s dominance over 2D.
A major component of DreamWorks’ success is its ability to balance mature themes with fun and feel-good stories. Whether it be through funny jokes, relatable characters, or breathtaking animation, many of their movies are perfect for picking audiences up when they’re feeling down.
10 ‘Abominable’ – (2019)
7 of 10
Yi (Chloe Bennet) is a hard-working girl who neglects time for her friends and family. One day, she discovered a baby Yeti trying to return home to Mt. Everest. This takes Yi and her friends Peng (Albert Tsai) and Jin (Tenzing Norgay Traino) across China as they evade Mr. Burnish (Eddie Izzard), who wants to recapture the Yeti.
Abominableshows the importance of maintaining connections with loved ones, especially when we’re vulnerable. There is also a strong message about man’s responsibility to the natural world and the consequences of neglecting it. Tying this all together are likable characters and breathtaking animation, especially regarding the landscape.
9 ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’ – (2002)
7.2 of 10
In 19th century America, a colt is born to a herd of wild horses. He eventually grows up to be the stallion of his herd but is captured by the US cavalry. They attempt to break his spirit, as well as a Lakota warrior named Little Creek (Daniel Studi), which entwines both of their destinies with one another.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a truly unique film. While Matt Damon occasionally narrates Spirit’s thoughts, the animals are silent, and large parts of the film have no human characters. This lets audiences take in the beauty of its visual story telling through expressive faces and gorgeous landscapes.
8 ‘Rise of the Guardians’ – (2012)
7.2 of 10
Jack Frost (Chris Pines) invisibly travels the world while trying to uncover the secrets of his past. He is eventually recruited by the Guardians of Childhood: Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), The Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), The Sandman, and The Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher). They need him to stop an ancient evil named Pitch Black (Jude Law) from plunging the world into anarchy and fear.
Rise of the Guardians is a fun and visually splendid movie. Its story touches on the importance of childhood and the significance of each of the guardian’s traditions. It’s hard not to crack a grin whenever the guardians interact with each other, particularly when they’re trying to help do the other’s jobs.Though its story is a little rushed,
7 ‘Megamind’ – (2010)
7.3 of 10
After years of battling Metroman (Brad Pitt) for control of Metro City, Megamind (Will Ferrell) has finally won. Unfortunately, villainy loses its lustre without an opponent, so he tries to make a new hero. At the same time, he grows closer to news reporter Roxanne Richey (Tina Fey), as she investigates his activity.
Though unappreciated at release due to Despicable Me,Megamindis a wonderful satire on the Superman story. It shows audiences that it’s never too late to reach outside their comfort zone and try something new, even if society doesn’t agree initially. The jokes are also some of DreamWorks’ best and include a range of superhero spoofs, sci-fi references, and witty back-and-forth banter.
6 ‘Shrek 2’ – (2004)
7.3 of 10
Shrek (Mike Myers) experiences trouble after marrying princess Fiona (Cameron Dias) when her parents invite them to the Kingdom of Far Far Away. After making a bad impression with her father (John Cleese), Shrek wonders what would be best for Fiona’s happiness. Meanwhile, a scheming Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) wants her son to marry Fiona and will use all her power to see it done.
Shrek 2is one of those rare sequels that manages to equal if not surpass the original. It ups the number of fairy-tale jokes while still managing to tell a compelling story about the lengths one will go to for their loved ones. It also saw the introduction of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), who would go on to star in two movies of his own.
5 ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit’ – (2005)
7.5 of 10
It’s the eve of Tottington Hall’s vegetable competition and Wallace (Peter Sallis) and Gromit are capturing as many rabbits as they can. Wallace attempts to use science to rid the rabbits of their love of vegetables, and at first, it seems to work. However, vegetable gardens across town are soon plundered by a monstrous were-rabbit that the duo must catch.
Curse of the Were-Rabbit was the first stop-motion film to win the Acadamy Award for Best Animated Feature, and it’s easy to see why. The bigger budget allowed Aardman Animation to get very creative with their signature stop-motion, allowing for strong emotional moments and wonderful comedy. The film also pays homage to classic horror films, particularly The Wolfman.
4 ‘Kung Fu Panda’ – (2008)
7.6 of 10
When Master Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) receives a vision that Tai-Lung (Ian McShane) will escape from prison, he decides it is time to choose the Dragon Warrior. Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) presents his five students, but a panda named Po (Jack Black) is chosen instead. Shifu tries to get Po to quit, seeing him as an accidental choice, but Oogway says that he needs to be given a chance.
Kung Fu Panda presents a wonderful mix of western humor and eastern philosophy. Its major themes focus on inner peace and how it can be achieved by accepting ourselves for who we are as individuals, which is applicable to any age. The action is a wonderful mix of slapstick and insane choreography and allowed the animators to push the boundaries of animation at the time.
3 ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ – (2022)
7.8 of 10
After leaving Shrek and Fiona, Puss in Boots returns to the life of a daredevil adventurer. Unfortunately, this carefree lifestyle has left him with only one life left, and a battle with a mysterious wolf nearly ends it. Fortunately, Puss learns of a map that can take him to a wishing star, which he can use to restore his missing lives.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish shocked audiences with how good it was and quickly became many people’s favorite animated film of 2022. This is thanks to its solid storytelling, which touches on strong themes of mortality, family, and what makes life worth living. Beyond that, it’s a solid adventure film that embraces fairytale tropes to produce unforgettable characters and gorgeous locations.
2 ‘Shrek’ – (2001)
7.9 of 10
When Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) of Duloc evicted all fairytale creatures from his land, they were forced to relocate to the swamp owned by the ogre, Shrek. Wanting his privacy, Shrek sets off with a talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) to remove them. Farquaad agrees, but only if Shrek retrieves a princess for him to marry to become king.
Everything about Shrek is guaranteed to make audiences smile while watching it. Along with its cynical humor, the film has a touching story about avoiding judgment and discovering one’s inner beauty. The film also has an iconic soundtrack, particularly the first song, Smash Mouth’s “All Star,” which has reached meme status.
1 ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ – (2010)
8.1 of 10
To prove himself a Viking warrior, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) shoots down a Night Fury, the deadliest kind of dragon that his clan wars with. However, he’s not able to kill the dragon, instead bonding with him and naming him Toothless. This friendship allows Hiccup to learn more about dragons than anyone in his village, but also leads to conflict with his father, Stoic (Gerard Butler).
How to Train Your Dragon blew audiences’ expectations thanks to its mature storytelling and heartfelt moral about bridging worlds. The relationship between Hiccup and Toothless is one of the best examples of human/animal bonding in media. Thanks to expressive animation and good story-pacing, their friendship feels strong and unbreakable, with plenty of moments of self-sacrifice on both ends.