DreamWorks has been one of the leading animation studios since 1998, with their most recent release The Bad Guys becoming one of their highest-rated films of the last ten years, and a Puss in Boots sequel scheduled with high anticipation for November. They are known for classics like the Shrek and Madagascar franchises, as well as one-off hits like The Prince of Egypt, and Bee Movie.
Though several DreamWorks titles invoke a strong familiarity to many, some of the studio’s newer films have not necessarily reached that same level of “iconic” quite yet. Rotten Tomatoes, of course, has published the official critical opinions on all of these movies and brought many of DreamWorks films from the last decade to the forefront of people’s minds.
19 The Boss Baby: Family Business (2021) – 46%
The Boss Baby: Family Business is the 2021 sequel to 2017’s The Boss Baby and the third installment in the franchise after the Netflix original series, Boss Baby: Back in Business. The sequel has been just a step behind its predecessor in terms of ratings and overall approval.
The movie has, in keeping up with what appears to be DreamWorks tradition, largely become an online sensation as people have turned the characters into memes and online jokes. Additionally, and despite its low ratings across the board, the entire franchise is a huge hit with its much younger target audience.
18 Spirit Untamed (2021) – 49%
A sequel to the 20-year-old traditionally animated movie Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Spirit Untamed received underwhelming responses from critics after its theatrical release turned out to be a box-office disaster. The movie was developed and created mostly remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and the slow reopening of theaters is considered by some to be a part of Spirit Untamed‘s disappointing performance.
Despite the very low critic score and several opinions that it was an unnecessary sequel inferior to the previous installment, the movie does currently have a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and was enjoyed by both fans of the original and children new to the series alike.
17 Home (2015) – 52%
Starring pop star Rhianna and The Big Bang Theory‘s Jim Parsons as a quirky human-and-extraterrestrial duo, Home made big waves and a lot of hype prior to its release in 2015. The movie then proceeded to be heavily criticized for its wasted potential in the execution of its concept.
Home received overall mixed reviews, and a spinoff series received the same. As the plot followed the main characters’ quests to find their family and be re-accepted in their homes, it exemplified a sweet moral about friendship and the search for feeling loved that did resonate with audiences but was generally criticized for existing as only a surface-level lesson with a soundtrack by Jennifer Lopez, and not much more.
16 The Boss Baby (2017) – 53%
Though the cast and crew of The Boss Baby may have all been DreamWorks veterans, the film (and the franchise as a whole) met to less than stellar reviews by a majority of adult audiences. Despite this, the movie managed to become one of the highest-grossing animated movies ever, which of course was the gateway to an extensive franchise that now includes both a sequel and two individual television series.
A second sequel to The Boss Baby is currently in the planning stages, with a majority of the star-studded cast expected to return. Though most do not appear to be very opinionated about the upcoming film, there is a decent group of individuals that are actively counting down the days to the next installment.
15 Turbo (2013) – 67%
The movie Turbo is the story of a snail who wants to race. After an accident that gives him the power of super speed, and with the help of his new snail friends, a few humans, and a new nickname, “Turbo” takes on the challenge to prove that he can win the Indy 500. While fun enough and involving a great voice cast, many expected more from the movie than they felt had been delivered and ultimately ended up disappointed by the simplicity of the story.
The cast featured names such as Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Ryan Reynolds, and Ben Schwartz, and did receive a spin-off despite its mixed reviews. However, there were hardly any role reprisals and the show is often thought to have taken on a life of its own, completely separated from the original movie.
14 Trolls World Tour (2020) – 71%
Trolls World Tour made headlines as the first major movie to be released direct-to-video-on-demand during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It broke records for digital releases and set a precedent for digital releases that would then go on to become the norm for several months and then some.
The sequel to the 2016film was a big hit among its intended audience and introduced a new generation to some classic songs and the vocal stylings of names from Broadway star Anthony Ramos to rock legend Ozzy Osbourne. The film came in right behind its predecessor in terms of Rotten Tomatoes scores, and currently has a third movie in the works.
13 The Croods (2013) – 72%
An animated movie unlike anything before it, The Croods is the story of a prehistoric family venturing outside the comfort of their cave in search of a new, safer home in an exotic and never-seen paradise. It was considered a box-office success, was nominated for several awards and was ultimately spun off into a successful franchise including a Netflix TV show and a very successful sequel film.
Initially announced in 2005 as a stop-motion animation film, the movie got delayed by the studio, the script was reworked, and the style shifted dramatically. Ultimately the film came out in 2013 as a CGI family comedy and was received relatively well. The movie drew a lot of attention, starring names such as Ryan Reynolds, Emma Stone, and Nicolas Cage.
12 Penguins of Madagascar (2012) – 74%
Penguins of Madagascar, the last cinematic installment of the Madagascar franchise, is both a prequel origin story and the fourth consecutive film in the series. Received positively, for the most part, many felt that it did not compare to its sister television show, The Penguins of Madagascar, which ran on the Nickelodeon and Nicktoons networks from 2008-2015. Though the two had contradictory storylines, both were enjoyed by fans of the franchise in their own regard.
The film featured returning voice actors as well as a new group of star-studded cast members. In the series’ usual style, dialogue often felt like a barrage of jokes and featured many references and one-liners to appeal to the adults. Though it did do ultimately well, Penguins of Madagascar stands as the lowest ranked Madagascar film overall.
11 Trolls (2016) – 75%
Trolls managed to immediately work its way into the hearts of children all over the world after its release and was responsible for the addition of Justin Timberlake’s earworm “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” to every parent’s playlist from 2016 on. The characters in the film were based on the popular 1960s Good Luck Trolls dolls, the story following two of the troll characters on a quest to save their friends from being eaten by their enemies, the Bergens.
A musical jukebox movie of sorts and one of the most highly anticipated movies the year of its release, Trolls had a very heartfelt message and gained a lot of critical and audience praise after its release, thus launching its own franchise including a Netflix series, a Hulu series, two holiday specials, and two sequels. The third movie in the franchise is currently set to release Thanksgiving weekend, 2023.
10 Rise of the Guardians (2012) – 75%
Rise of the Guardians is an often overlooked and yet highly praised DreamWorks film that follows the stories of mythical creatures and people such as the Sandman, Santa Claus, and Jack Frost as they aim to save the world from being encompassed in darkness. It is thought by some to be a modern holiday classic despite its underwhelming box office response.
Considered somewhat of a cult classic, this exciting take on a superhero-type movie has maintained an active fanbase despite existing only as a one-off film for the last ten years. Many still wish for a sequel to be developed at some point, fans and crew alike.
9 The Croods: A New Age (2020) – 77%
The Croods: A New Age surpassed the success of its predecessor, with more big names added to the roster, improved animation, and another Golden Globe nomination in tow. It broke recent records at the box office for the performance of an animated family film, and was only helped by its direct-to-video release that took place just a few short weeks after the initial theatrical release.
Though the release date was pushed around quite a few times, The Croods: A New Age ultimately showed up at the right time and made many of the right moves regarding marketing and release, earning it a spot in the hearts of kids and parents alike.
8 Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (2012)- 78%
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted is the third consecutive Madagascar movie, centering around the original four Central Park Zoo escapees, Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman. The movie picks up shortly after the end of the previous film and includes other favorite characters including the chimps, the lemurs, and the penguins, and follows all the characters as they continue their attempts to get back home, this time by joining a traveling European circus.
Madagascar 3 was released while the series’ spinoff Nickelodeon show, The Penguins of Madagascar, was still on the air and very successful. Therefore, it had a very established target demographic and thus, great audience reception. Critics ultimately placed this movie as the highest rated of the entire Madagascar franchise.
7 Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) – 81%
Initially based on a reoccurring segment on The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is about the titular characters, an anthropomorphic dog named Mr. Peabody and his adoptive son, 7-year-old Sherman as they travel through time and space and make allies and enemies along the way.
Although it was thought by the studio to be a box office flop, it was very well received by critics and audiences alike. The movie contained a significant number of quality jokes and gags for every age and featured great animation and a wonderful, heartfelt message at the end.
6 Abominable (2019) – 82%
Met with generally positive reviews though a bit of controversy, Abominable tells the very sweet story of a teenaged Yi and the yeti that she happens to meet on the roof of her Shanghai apartment building. Yi and the yeti, whom she names Everest, proceed to go on a magic-filled adventure in order to get the kind monster back home.
The movie was met with much praise for its delightful animation, soundtrack, and casting choices, eliciting several award nominations and earning it its own spin-off tv show. In line with many other recent DreamWorks releases, Abominable was said to have a lot of heart and live up to audience’s expectations to the fullest.
5 Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016) – 86%
The third movie and seventh installment in the Kung Fu Panda franchise, Kung Fu Panda 3, much like its predecessors, received very positive reviews for its animation, humor, action, and heart. The movie follows The Dragon Warrior, panda Po, as he reunites with his birth father and his home village.
Performing nearly identically to the first movie and slightly better than the second, Kung Fu Panda 3 disappointed no one and reinvigorated the audience’s love for the movies upon its release. The franchise now consists of 13 movies, shows, and short films, and a fourth film is currently set for release in 2024.
4 Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (2017) – 87%
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is based on the David Pilkey novel series, “Captain Underpants.” The series was twelve books long, running from 1997-2015, thus earning the DreamWorks movie the expanded title of “The First Epic Movie” in anticipation of recreating the rest of the series.
The movie was very well received and spawned a three-season Netlfix television series, though a sequel film is yet to be confirmed or denied. The star-studded cast and enjoyable humor are only a couple of the reasons that five years later fans continue to wait in anticipation for the day the announcement may come.
3 The Bad Guys (2022) – 88%
The Bad Guys was a charming, stylized film based off of a series of graphic novels by the same name. It followed Wolf, played by Sam Rockwell, and his gang of con artists as they made a series of faulty attempts at becoming good and moving on from their sinister, crime-riddled ways. With well-written characters and some great quotes, The Bad Guys was an instant success.
The movie was met with generally high praise, proving that a heavy shift in animation style and leaning into animated works’ cartoonish styles might be the saving grace that keeps these movies new and interesting. The plot and humor were both funny and thought-provoking in a manner that heavily appeals to both children and adults, just as DreamWorks had built its animated foundations on decades ago.
2 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) – 90%
The original How to Train Your Dragon movie has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, so to think that its sequels would underperform is an underestimation of the fanbase’s love for the characters, world, and incredible writing. How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is the third and final movie in the series and was beloved by audiences everywhere upon its release.
The movie was the fifth highest-grossing film of that year, was nominated for and received several awards for its production, and has spawned quite a few memes that continue to circulate three years later. Fans acknowledged it as having been a perfect conclusion to the beloved series.
1 How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014) – 92%
Arguably DreamWorks’s most beloved franchise, How to Train Your Dragon 2 followed close on the trail of the original How to Train Your Dragon movie in terms of its overwhelmingly positive reception. The trilogy followed protagonist Hiccup, his dragon Toothless, and their friends as they embarked on journeys within their Viking village and across the world.
Like the first film, the movie was widely acclaimed for all aspects, including its heavier subjects and darker, less humorous themes comparatively. The movie was nominated for and won many awards for several aspects of its production and remains one of DreamWorks Animation’s highest-grossing movies to this day.