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Entries in Megamind (2)

Thursday
Mar 26 2015

The Rise and Fall of DreamWorks Animation,Part 2: Fall

UPDATE 3/29: Well!NowHomehas gone and ruined my entire beautiful narrative arc by wildly outperforming even the most rosily optimistic predictions during its opening weekend,with an estimated $54 million.With that total in its pocket,even under the worst imaginable scenario,it should still glide past $100 million in the United States with ease - $150 mil is certainly in play - and combined with its sterling overseas performance so far,it shouldn't have any problem turning a profit for DreamWorks.The day of reckoning has been put off.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.As DreamWorks's only 2015 release,the studio won't be able to build up any momentum,but it gives the powers that be a good chance to breathe easily and take a good long time to re-work their future plans.Hopefully the right lessons are learned from this ("Non-white girls can sell movies,too") and not the easier wrong ones ("That absolute piece of crap made us money!We don't ever have to try again!),and hopefully it will encourage this and all other animation companies to experiment a little bit more with new properties instead of just retrenching to sequels every time someone says "boo".-Tim

Tim here.Last week,we took a tour through the peak years of DreamWorks Animation,during which time the House That Jeffrey Katzenberg's Hatred of His Old Bosses at Disney Built established itself as the biggest gorilla in American feature animation.And as 2010 dawned,the studio was on the verge of a remarkable achievement.That year,DreamWorks released three feature-length theatrical films – the most any studio had ever produced.It proved to be a great year to do so,an extraordinary year for animation: five of the year's top ten films at both the domestic and worldwide box office were animated,an unmatched record.

That,of course,is exactly the problem.Having perfected a factory for producing animated features that anyone could follow,DreamWorks was as responsible as any studio for the glut of animation that hit in 2009 and has continued largely unabated ever since.By making its products too ubiquitous,the studio was making them routine and increasingly easy to ignore.

Not that it was apparent from the first of the year's releases,How to Train Your Dragon,which netted DreamWorks its best reviews ever and remains its highest-grossing Stateside release without the word "Shrek"in the title.[More...]

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Friday
Sep 23 2011

Cinema de Gym: 'Megamind'

Editor's Note: In Cinema de Gym,Kurt writes about whichever piece of whichever movie was playing while he cardio'ed.I wish my gym would play movies.

Kurthere with the firstCinema de Gymcolumn to tackle an animated film.Megamindseems to be the lesser of at least two 2010 CG toons to pin the spotlight on the villain instead of the hero (the greater,of course,wasDespicable Me,that darkly random Steve Carrell curio).As the titular swollen-headed baddie,Will Ferrell even has a henchman he refers to as "Minion,"a la those adorable Tic-Tac Oompa-Loompas that Carrell bossed around.Of what I saw,Megamindoffers some cozy glee,with handsome,colorful action setpieces,but it doesn't take long to tell that it's low on the animation totem pole,and unlikeDespicable Me,no worries if it's not on your catch-up list.

It also stars the voice of Brad Pitt,and by the time I walked in,Pitt's character,Metro Man,had already been vanquished/defeated/pushed-aside-until-the-winding-down-of-the-second-act by Megamind,his vainglorious nemesis.The centerpiece of what I caught was a scene in which Megamind and the movie's Lois Lane,a reporter voiced by Tina Fey,stand on opposite sides of a catwalk encircling a syscraper-sized Metro Man monument,admiring the curvature of his literally cut-from-stone features.At one point,the two – well,she and a shape-shifted version of our villain – head downstairs in a glass elevator,scanning the whole height of that muscular marble man.

It was a fitting bit of star-gazing during this special week of Pitt adoration.On Tuesday I caught the impressively,refreshingly sophisticatedMoneyball,and I'm happy to say I've never been more pleased with a Pitt performance (if ever he deserved an Oscar nom...).I didn't get to hear the superstar's voice inMegamind,but I did get a littleMoneyballparallel,as Jonah Hill voices Fey's reporter's flatly-rendered fat sidekick.

It's no news to anybody that animated features have become a go-to arena for comedians,whose nimble vocals are ever-amenable to over-the-top,rubbery-bright concoctions.Hill,like Seth Rogen,has become a very obvious casting choice,while David Cross (who voices that fish-headed "Minion") is a wee bit sad in just how often he's schlepping it to the recording booth.But,I guess we've all gotta make bank,and on that note,I'd much rather see Ferrell continue to pad his well-padded sellout pockets while...not having to actually see him.In that way,animation is good for comedians,assuming those comedians are ones who rose to fame,got greedy,and proceeded to say yes to every lousy project that came down the pike.The filters of fantastical illustration and family-friendly restraint work small wonders,andMegamindis to Will Ferrell whatKung Fu Pandais to Jack Black: a colorful gift of funnyman palatability.

Conclusions?

1.In this age of the especially tireless questioning of authority,Villain is the new Hero,even in kids' flicks.
2.Brad Pitt insists on being in my life this week.Redirected from my old address,the newEWwith Pitt on the cover just arrived mere moments ago.Hey,I'm not complaining.
3.In truth,it's probably best that David Cross stay in the recording booth.
4.With their animation ventures ripe for corruption,and with their tendencies to freely sign on dotted lines,it's only a matter of time before we see Ferrell and Black team up forMegamind vs.Kung Fu Panda.

What's your favorite animated performance from a comedian?