Dreamworks, Pixar and storytelling

Juan Orozco
Juan Orozco
I love this poster art in the movie. Hilarious!

The family and I finally watched Megamind the other night.  I was really impressed. The story was creative and different, but I was mostly amazed with the facial expressions –  really sucked me into the story. Also, a few weeks ago, we watched How to Train Your Dragon for the first time.  That has to be my favorite Dreamworks film to date.

I got to thinking about Dreamworks and Pixar.  Dreamworks has intermittent success.  Kung Fu Panda was really good (I'm excited to see the second one). Monsters versus Aliens was fun, but not great. Madagascar was one of the funniest movies they’ve made, but also not great. And by great, I guess I mean timeless.  Little Mermaid is still enjoyed by children today, like mine. It's timeless.

Pixar, on the other hand… well, it's interesting to hear all the hype about Pixar's awesome-flick streak.  Well, I'm kind of "eh" about Cars 2, right now - I'd much rather see an Incredibles 2 right now but I digress. Pixar can tell a story and they create these beautiful works of art… their “timeless” success ratio is essentially pretty darn high.

It’s all about Storytelling.

Pixar’s documentary mentions that it wasn’t computer animation that killed traditional animation, it was poor story telling.  The Princess and the Frog was a great way to prove this hypothesis. It wasn’t amazing, but it’s still up there for my family – very close to timeless.  (Who knew Goliath could sing!? Wow!)

So, who’s the better storyteller here?  Pixar has some really great original and successful stuff.  Dreamworks - well, How to Train Your Dragon was amazing, but it’s based off a book written by someone else.  Megamind was also amazing, but it’s just a twist on Superman.  Creative? Very. Timeless? Ehhhh… not sure.

Although Pixar isn’t perfect, they’re definitely the better story tellers.  But here’s the thing, though: Dreamworks is more fun oriented than Pixar is.  Pixar tells these beautiful stories of struggle and life changing resolutions.  Dreamworks is like, “Let’s blow crap up! Wooooo!”  Their story telling doesn’t feel as refined because they don’t want to be.  They just want to give people a good time at the movies. Nothing wrong with that, it just makes it harder to be “timeless.”

Which is better? Ford or Chevy? Apple OSX or Microsoft Windows?

DreamWorks or Pixar?  Neither and both.  Ok, so DreamWorks hasn’t been as successful at the box office and has landed pretty close to bankruptcy a couple of times. But, remember, Apple and GM came pretty close to destruction as well.  (And yes, Apple fanboys/girls, Apple's stuff is awesome, but even Windows has its good points.)

In the end, sometimes you want that beautiful movie and sometimes you just want to watch stuff explode, you know?  Timelessness be damned.