Pixar vs. DreamWorks Debate

Today, I’ve decided to dive deep into the most controversial topic in current American politics, that being the Pixar v. DreamWorks debate. It’s ruined families, polarized the political climate, and now I’m here to discuss it.

I’m sure many individuals could be asked this question and not have to think twice about an answer: Pixar. Their films are beyond revolutionary, with films like Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. forever immortalized into the childhoods of millions. Starting with films like Toy Story (based off their own short film Tin Toy) and A Bug’s Life, Pixar created an empire of award-winning family movies. Led by the former Disney animator John Lasseter, his guidance and passion for animation has helped Pixar to produce hit after hit.

For the purpose of this article, DreamWorks could be considered the underdog of the matchup. Established by former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, director Steven Spielberg, and David Geffen, DreamWorks built their empire from the ground up. Starting with their 1998 production of Antz (which rivaled Pixar’s own film A Bug’s Life), they quickly proved themselves to be a fierce competitor in the animation field.

When it boils down to the quality of film being produced, there’s a lot of trade-off between them. Both companies have had really high highs (like Shrek 2 and Up) and really low lows (like Shark Tales and Cars 2). Overall, I think both companies are of equal talent in the art of animation, just in slightly differing ways.

For example, Pixar’s Finding Nemo is one of most stunning 3D animated movies around, while DreamWork’s The Prince of Egypt is one of the most stunning 2D animated movies around. Pixar films typically deal with heartfelt themes of parenting, aging, or friendship while mixing in lighthearted humor. DreamWorks definitely emphasizes the comedic elements of a film more, with the humor often overshadowing the themes. To use an analogy, Pixar is a sophisticated and nurturing parent, while DreamWorks is the goofy uncle who usually doesn’t take himself too seriously. This isn’t to say Pixar never focuses on humor and DreamWorks doesn’t get deep, I’m just pointing out the general trend I’ve noticed.

When comparing the content, right off the bat Disney Pixar has an unfair advantage just in the type of content they tap into, which tends to be more emotional and whimsical. Award shows, film critics, and general audiences are more likely to warm up to the touching relationships and timeless themes of Wall-E or Up than the off-the-wall humor of Bee Movie.

While Pixar is the more critically acclaimed company, when it comes to who I have the most respect for, DreamWorks takes the cake. Pixar’s films are truly terrific, but are always obvious, play it safe hits. You know that Toy Story 3, Finding Dory, and Monsters Inc. are all going to be instant classics just based on the simplistic subject matter (again, the emotions their films tap into).

DreamWorks on the other hand is much more willing to take a chance on an idea, even if that idea appears to be a surefire disaster. Some of their films like Shark Tales and Shrek the Third are dead on arrival, but occasional missteps are normal for the creative process. And it’s all worth it in the end when we get great works of animation like How to Train Your Dragon and Chicken Run.

If you would’ve told me back in 2008 that a movie about a self-conscious, Kung Fu fighting panda that’s voiced by Jack Black would not only be successful but be one of the best family pictures of recent years, I’d tell you you’re crazy. And what about the satirical fairy tale movie starring a pessimistic ogre that’s voiced by an actor whose career was already beginning to wither away? Not only was that film great, but it spawned an even better and funnier sequel that remains one of my favorite animated films of all-time.

So, the answer to who is better is rather complicated and anything but clear-cut. I think it’s safe to assume that most people would choose Pixar as the clear choice for better animation company and I don’t blame them. Pixar’s animation is rich, their characters highly memorable, and the themes of their movies timeless.

But my respect for DreamWorks and their willingness to take a chance on wild ideas is unwavering, therefore I’d have to choose DreamWorks as the better company based on this dedication to the craft.

-Zachary Flint

 

The Boss Baby Review

From DreamWorks Animation comes another very peculiar concept for a family film. Behold, I give you, The Boss Baby. A fun kids film with a thinly spread plot and lots of toilet humor.

Everything seemed to be going great in the young life of Tim Templeton (Miles Christopher Bakshi), with two parents (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow) who gave him all the love and attention he could ever ask for. Tim’s life unfortunately changes for the worst when a strange baby wearing a suit shows up in a taxi cab (don’t you hate it when that happens?). Tim, suspicious of a suit wearing, briefcase wielding baby, discovers that the baby can in fact talk like an adult. The baby (voiced by Alec Baldwin), actually works for a company called Babycorps, and was sent on an important mission to spy on Tim’s parents. Through a surprisingly complex chain of events, Tim and the baby must work together to save Tim’s unsuspecting parents from a sinister plot.

I thought the premise to The Boss Baby was very fascinating and creative, and DreamWorks does a lot with it. They go out of their way to design this entire company where the babies work at, as well as incorporating many other creative ideas. Unfortunately, there is a yin and yang to this. For a children’s film, the rules and logic The Boss Baby runs on is actually pretty complex.

There were a plethora of plot holes that I noticed in The Boss Baby, however I would prefer to not get into all of them. I guess when you’re watching a movie about a businessman baby, you really shouldn’t go looking for trouble. However, the issues with this film are pretty obvious and actually just make things more confusing. For example, towards the beginning of the film the mother is obviously pregnant with a child. But when the baby arrives, he arrives via a taxi with a suit and briefcase. Again, it’s a movie about a spy baby wearing a suit, I shouldn’t think about it too hard. But when DreamWorks makes these overly complex children’s films and not everything adds up, maybe they do need their hand smacked.

About half way into the film I could tell that the plot, while interesting, was going to be spread paper thin. Towards the final third of the film, scenes very obviously started dragging out to inflate the runtime. The ending of the film was so long and drawn out that it made me feel like I was watching Return of the King. I just don’t think this concept for a film was enough to satisfy a full length feature film. At least, without dragging it out a bit.

The animation in The Boss Baby is colorful and nice to look at, but isn’t nearly the best DreamWorks can do. The Boss Baby feels like a film DreamWorks already knew wouldn’t be a mega-hit, therefore they didn’t put all their resources in to make it. So while it’s pretty enough to keep you engaged in the film, if you’re looking for outstanding animation, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

In the end, I wouldn’t say that I hated The Boss Baby, because I actually enjoyed my experience watching it. I thought the characters (especially Alec Baldwin as the baby) and animation style were both entertaining, and I can guarantee that just about any kid who watches this will have a great time. There are even some good moral messages for kids about getting a baby sibling, and what that means in terms of future attention from their parents. This is an important message to give to kids, and I really liked it here in The Boss Baby.

So while there are plenty of aspects I liked about The Boss Baby, overall I feel there were too many issues involving the plot for me to completely like it.

The Verdict: C

-Zachary Flint