Monday, June 06, 2005

Does this mean I really have to go see Madagascar now?

In a bizarre turns of events at the box office this weekend, Madagascar somehow jumped from the third place spot it occupied last weekend to the coveted weekend number one spot. Its profits still dropped about 40% from last weekend, but its already grossed about $100 mill. ROTS plunged to number three, but once I looked at the numbers, my initial shock was lambasted by reading that this SW film has broken yet another record, surpassing the $300 million dollar mark in only seventeen days. Not too shabby I guess. The Longest Yard has done well for itself, cuming almost $100 mill in two weekends, but I will confess I have absolutely no desire to see that movie. I like Sandler and all but try as I might football just ain’t my thing.

I will probably go see Madagascar this week. In fact to be perfectly honest, I thought the trailer was sort of cute. But here’s the thing about the Dreamworks animated features. As much as people rag on Disney for pumping out saccharin, ridiculously goody-two shoe enterprises, (an assertion which I actually beg to differ with.), the Dreamworks ani-pix have a nasty sort of cynical tone to them, that I could really do without. Their films lack a sense of innocence. It isn’t to say that I think all films targeted towards children should be porridge like concoctions without any substance – I just think there is an element of wonder that the Dreamworks films sort of shun. An element of wonder that I think we as a society sort of laugh off, one that I think is crucial to childhood but that seems to be shrinking evermore.

In the first Shrek movie, a lot of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s angst about his years at Disney was quite evident, particularly in the scenes that actually mimic Disneyland itself. Hey, I’m not saying I didn’t laugh at these moments, because I’m sure that I did. I just think there’s something sad about walking out of the theatre with a seven year old, and having to explain to them the inside jokes of corporate politics. People always say, “Oh, they’re kids they don’t get it. Those jokes are for the adults. The kids have other stuff to pay attention to.” But people are constantly underestimating children, and they are no fools. They are aware and notice things, and are going to ask you why everyone laughed at Shrek 2 when it was revealed that Pinnochio was wearing a thong.

Even a film like The Incredibles, which had a lot of themes that could be appreciated by adults, has an unabashed sweetness and goodness to it. Same as Finding Nemo. For whatever other problems Disney may have as a company (and granted having PIXAR under their thumb is a HUGE advantage), I think they are unafraid to be sentimental and nice. Something which I think the Dreamworks execs fear as being “lame” or “uncool.” I haven’t seen Shark Tale, but I have heard tell that it is also rife with references to commercial culture (isn’t it cute that they shop at Old Wavy!) and snarky stereotypes aimed at collecting cheap laughs.

Sure Shrek 2 made tones of money. $918 mill world wide to be exact. But neither Shrek, nor Shark Tale, (and probably not Madagascar by the looks of it) will supersede grosses for Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Will it always pay to be cynical? I say no.


Blogger Elliot said...

I think Dreamworks 3D animation has been pretty average all round.
I am not a big fan of Shrek.
And Shark Tale is just awful, awful film making.

8:16 PM  

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