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Philly Cheesesteak

The DreamWorks Animated Library

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Opening this to the floor: should there be a representative from the DreamWorks Animated Library in the Canon? We've given Disney a fair few chances, so how about DreamWorks? Surely, they've made something of value or significance that should be immortalized in the Canon, but what makes the cut?

 

Are we going to go with The Prince of Egypt (a popular fan-favourite), or pick out Shrek for single-handedly defining an entire studio's pop culture aesthetic for a whole decade (for better or for worse)? Or how about one of the more refined and polished examples of their post-2010/post-Shrek popularity library, like How to Train Your Dragon or Kung Fu Panda?

 

What do you guys think?

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I honestly don't think any of them are particularly great or iconic.

 

Plus, we've got no Pixar; so that might be priority no.1

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I was thinking a Shrek vs. Shrek 2 would make a good episode. Shrek defined Dreamworks animation's aesthetic, as you say, and created possibly the most recognizable animated characters of the 21st century (kinda the closest thing this generation has to a Bugs Bunny or Micky Mouse, like it or not), not to mention that it's just a really great film.

 

But I personally think Shrek 2 is the superior film, certainly the superior comedy, and it was the highest grossing comedy of all time at the time of it's release. It's honestly one of my favourite comedies period. The jokes in that film come hard and fast. I would even go so far as to compare it to early Simpsons episodes.

 

Anyway, I think Dreamworks animation belongs in the canon, but these are the only 2 canon-worthy films they've made.

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I was thinking a Shrek vs. Shrek 2 would make a good episode. Shrek defined Dreamworks animation's aesthetic, as you say, and created possibly the most recognizable animated characters of the 21st century (kinda the closest thing this generation has to a Bugs Bunny or Micky Mouse, like it or not), not to mention that it's just a really great film.

 

But I personally think Shrek 2 is the superior film, certainly the superior comedy, and it was the highest grossing comedy of all time at the time of it's release. It's honestly one of my favourite comedies period. The jokes in that film come hard and fast. I would even go so far as to compare it to early Simpsons episodes.

 

Anyway, I think Dreamworks animation belongs in the canon, but these are the only 2 canon-worthy films they've made.

 

What about Prince of Egypt? It's the most critically beloved of their pre-3D canon, with a soundtrack composed by the same team that would later compose Wicked, and it's certainly become something of a cult classic for fans of 90's animation.

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I honestly don't think any of them are particularly great or iconic.

 

Plus, we've got no Pixar; so that might be priority no.1

 

Yeah, as much as I love Shrek (only the first, ONLY the first!) and the HtTYD films, I wouldn't call any of them "great". They all have their great moments, but are also very uneven films that fall back on decades-old tropes. The sequels keep riding over the same ground, instead of making small, but impactful, developments like the Toy Story films, and the more satirical movies just feel like Looney Tunes, minus the brevity. And the only films Dreamworks' formula seems to have inspired are low-budget clones like Hoodwinked.

 

I don't know which one I would nominate first. Not because there are too many candidates, but because there are too few. Whereas you could put any two Toy Story films up for a versus, and I can see a good episode. Also, Wall-E, The Incredibles, maybe even Finding Nemo.

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I'd be down for The Prince of Egypt. Personally, I'm not a fan of Dreamworks animation otherwise. Shrek would make sense, but I've got no passion for it. It's all right. I'd rather talk about more Pixar, or hold out for another Ghibli before doing Dreamworks.

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What about Prince of Egypt? It's the most critically beloved of their pre-3D canon, with a soundtrack composed by the same team that would later compose Wicked, and it's certainly become something of a cult classic for fans of 90's animation.

 

To be fair, I haven't seen Prince of Egypt since I was a child, but I didn't like it then. It's certainly overdue for another look from me.

 

But still I think Shrek is more representative of Dreamworks animation's entire catalogue, not to mention the influence it's had on so much of 21st animation even outside of Dreamworks.

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To be fair, I haven't seen Prince of Egypt since I was a child, but I didn't like it then. It's certainly overdue for another look from me.

 

But still I think Shrek is more representative of Dreamworks animation's entire catalogue, not to mention the influence it's had on so much of 21st animation even outside of Dreamworks.

 

I too haven't seen Prince of Egypt for a long time. I remember finding it...interesting enough, but being really pissed off (I was a teenager) by the comic relief and the musical numbers. I think I just wanted a more-identifiable, modern take on "The Ten Commandments" (freed from all its old-school operaticness), but what I took away was a film that seemed split between an earnest and emotional personal story of Moses and Rameses, and a wannabe-90s-Disney Broadway production.

 

It's been a long time since then, though. I'm hardly primed to re-watch it, but I totally could. I do understand that it's pretty well-thought-of these days. It WOULD make for a fun episode, I think. I really, really want The Canon to try more honestly borderline picks. Court controversy. Risk rejection. Talk about the non-slam-dunks.

 

-- (EDIT: I mean, who the **** is gonna vote AGAINST Blazing Saddles?) --

 

I know we all love film here, but...harping an an old point...I am SOOOOOOOO much more interested in sussing out where that line between Canon and non-Canon lies. Safe, great films can be fun topics as fluff, but if you know going in that the film is clearly gonna get in, it just isn't that interesting. Versus episodes, at the very least, insist that the sponsors/defenders of the less-popular film bring their A-game to try to make their case, just as episodes of borderline picks spark a real debate, soul-searching, etc. The Prince of Egypt would make for a pretty good discussion, I would think, because, while I understand it's well thought-of (and I didn't hate it), I honestly don't know if it would make it in. And that makes for an exciting episode. Where will Devin and Amy fall? Where will the forum fall? I don't know! That's genuine bomb-under-the-table Hitchcockian suspense, I tell you what!

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Here's a thought.

 

Shrek vs. Prince of Egypt.

 

In one corner, the movie that defined DreamWorks' pop cultural identity and aesthetic.

 

In the other, the underrated cult classic that was controversial at the time, aped Disney's 90's formulas and was banned in multiple countries for its religious overtones.

 

Some might say one is more emotionally earnest than the other. One might say the other is responsible for propagating some of the worst stereotypes in children's animated movies throughout the Noughties and the New Tens. But doesn't that notoriety warrant Canon candidacy?

 

Think about it, fellas.

 

This Vs. episode would be a real underdog story. It's the pop culture juggernaut vs. the little (and semi-serious) movie that could.

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Think about it, fellas.

 

This Vs. episode would be a real underdog story. It's the pop culture juggernaut vs. the little (and semi-serious) movie that could.

 

That technically didn't, I think you mean. Dreamworks didn't pick up from Prince of Egypt AT ALL. Honestly, if there's any film that it reminds me of most of all, it's Anastasia. Prince of Egypt felt more Bluthian than Disney. Or Dreamworks-ian, really. Heartfelt, sincere, but derivative. It copied off of the established formula, rather than either develop it, or perfect it.

 

Shrek set the tone for all future Dreamworks films (even A Shark Tale......*Sideshow Bob/rake noise*). HtTYD is a tale of modern teenagers in vaguely Viking times, mostly of an outcast nothing who makes good when the situation demands it of him, just as Kung Fu Panda is about a chubby, schlubby under-achiever who makes good when the situation demands it of him. Same formula as Pixar's A Bug's Life, or Dreamworks' Antz, or, back to the point, Shrek. Which preceded all of them by years. And whereas HtTYD has the beautiful animation (especially the 3D, which would be hard to talk about in a podcast), and whereas the first Shrek had some pitch-perfect genre satire (Welcome to Dulock, such a perfect town...."You’re meant to charge in, sword drawn, banner flying-that’s what all the other knights did....Yeah, right before they burst into flame!"), like modern Fractured Fairy Tale, Prince of Egypt was a 90s Broadway musical that came late to the party and was probably lucky to stiill be acknowledged once the party's energy (after Hunchback and Mulan, etc.) had moved on.

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Actually, I take that back. Every Dreamworks animated feature is a masterpiece, and each one deserves a spot in the canon, starting with Kung Fu Panda 3, followed closely by Shrek Forever After

 

.

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Oooph. Egg on my face, there. I just got snarkily dissed by one of my favourite film critics.

 

No egg, sorry if I was too snotty.

 

But there's no chance.

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I'm pretty dang fond of some of these - especially How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda (which no fellow adult will believe me when I say it's surprisingly well done), but I can understand them not necessarily being Canon-worthy.

 

Shrek is maybe the one I could see the most argument for, in terms of influence at least, even though I've never been a fan of the franchise and hoo boy even that first one hasn't exactly aged well.

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No egg, sorry if I was too snotty.

 

But there's no chance.

 

We can always hold out for a Dreamworks-loving guest.

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No egg, sorry if I was too snotty.

 

But there's no chance.

 

Ah. S'all good, then.

 

Anyway, love your work! Huge fan of the Canon and Birth.Movies.Death!

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Shrek is maybe the one I could see the most argument for, in terms of influence at least, even though I've never been a fan of the franchise and hoo boy even that first one hasn't exactly aged well.

 

I know it's all a matter of taste, but what about it hasn't aged well? I watched Shrek and Shrek 2 earlier this year and still love both those movies.

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I know it's all a matter of taste, but what about it hasn't aged well? I watched Shrek and Shrek 2 earlier this year and still love both those movies.

Fair enough. I can go pretty deep into this, for anyone bored enough to read, but... for me, the movie references (there were a couple extended ones for The Matrix, if I recall) and the music (ugh so much Smash Mouth, and I think I remember some Baha Men?) are pretty dated. Plus the overall pop song-ification of family movies post-Shrek was annoying too, but that's another story.

 

It may have to do with high expectations after hearing from all angles how amazing these films were at the time (I didn't see the first Shrek until maybe the 3rd one was out), and it ending up just being... fine? There's some well done adult humor sprinkled in, which I mostly liked (except the oft-touted "Lord Farquaad" (can they even SAY that?! *cue monicle drop*) half-entrendre... it doesn't resemble an actual name someone would have in reality or a fairy tale, so where's the riff?), but once the 'shock' wore off you're left with a fairly rote story at its core, Mike Myers rehashing his Scottish accent for the umphteenth time, and a surprisingly grating Eddie Murphy.

 

The movie cleverly twists fairytale/fable tropes and archetypes, which is what I enjoyed the most, seemingly building up to the subversion of the roles culture pigeon-holes us into. Could the (traditionally) beautiful princess ever really fall in love with someone as outwardly ugly and socially unacceptable as an ogre? Yes! Oh wait... no. She's an ogre too - so I guess better to be with your own kind, I guess? That was disappointing to me. A twist too far, and ultimately the less brave decision.

 

But as you said - it's a matter of taste. I don't dislike them (and I think I enjoyed Shrek 2 better than the first; it's been a long while) but feel they lost some of their luster over the years. That, or I'm just a joyless curmudgeon... I'm fine with that possibility too.

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