DreamWorks Animation

(Photo by DreamWorks Animation)

All 41 DreamWorks Animation Movies Ranked

DreamWorks Animation’s first movie was Antz, released two months before A Bug’s Life, and thus this studio was born into incessant comparison to Pixar’s output, molded by it, becoming the snarky and sarcastic foil to its competitor’s earnestness.

DreamWorks Animation would forge most of its identity and formula on the back of one giant, smelly, green ogre: Shrek, which has generated sequels, tie-ins, theme park rides, and billions of dollars, while ensuring Smash Mouth’s “All-Star” never leaving the pop culture’s ironic curriculum.

The studio’s other franchises include Kung Fu Panda, which introduced a whole new world of visual flair and surprising emotional depth to the DreamWorks movie canon, and Madagascar, which pulled off the mega-rare feat of each movie being higher-rated on the Tomatometer than the last. At least the mainline movies. (Penguins of Madagascar 73% is lower than the 79% Madagascar 3 has, but that’s a spin-off.)

Their latest releases were Spirit Untamed and Boss Baby: Family Business, with The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish on the horizon. Now, we’re ranking all DreamWorks Animation movies by Tomatometer!

#41

Shark Tale (2004)
35%

#41
Adjusted Score: 42995%
Critics Consensus: Derivative and full of pop culture in-jokes.
Synopsis: Underachiever Oscar (Will Smith) is a pint-sized fish with grand aspirations. When mob-connected great white shark Frankie (Michael Imperioli) is... [More]

#40

Shrek the Third (2007)
42%

#40
Adjusted Score: 50239%
Critics Consensus: Shrek the Third has pop culture potshots galore, but at the expense of the heart, charm, and wit that made the first two Shreks classics.
Synopsis: When King Harold suddenly croaks, Shrek (Mike Myers) learns he will have to rule the land of Far, Far Away,... [More]
Directed By: Chris Miller

#39
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: The adventurous sailor (Brad Pitt) and a beautiful stowaway (Catherine Zeta-Jones) have 10 days to save a prince from execution.... [More]

#38
Adjusted Score: 50902%
Critics Consensus: It's more C-level than C-suite, but as a painless diversion for the kids, this Boss Baby manages some decent Family Business.
Synopsis: Now adults, Tim Templeton is a stay-at-home dad for two adorable daughters, while his estranged brother, Ted, is a big-shot... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#37
#37
Adjusted Score: 51697%
Critics Consensus: Predictable story and thin characters made the movie flat.
Synopsis: Two con-men (Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh) get hold of a map to the lost City of Gold, El Dorado. After... [More]

#36

Spirit Untamed (2021)
50%

#36
Adjusted Score: 54647%
Critics Consensus: While it might be a passable diversion for younger viewers, Spirit Untamed is a middling sequel that lacks the essential energy suggested by its title.
Synopsis: After moving to a sleepy little town, young Lucky Prescott befriends a wild mustang named Spirit, who shares her rebellious... [More]
Directed By: Elaine Bogan

#35

Bee Movie (2007)
49%

#35
Adjusted Score: 56325%
Critics Consensus: Bee Movie has humorous moments, but its awkward premise and tame delivery render it mostly forgettable.
Synopsis: Fresh out of college, Barry the Bee (Jerry Seinfeld) finds the prospect of working with honey uninspiring. He flies outside... [More]

#34

Home (2015)
52%

#34
Adjusted Score: 56229%
Critics Consensus: Colorful, silly, and utterly benign, Home is a passable diversion, but there's no shortage of superior animated alternatives.
Synopsis: After a hive-minded alien race called the Boov conquer the Earth, they relocate the planet's human population -- all except... [More]
Directed By: Tim Johnson

#33

The Boss Baby (2017)
53%

#33
Adjusted Score: 65131%
Critics Consensus: The Boss Baby's talented cast, glimmers of wit, and flashes of visual inventiveness can't make up for a thin premise and a disappointing willingness to settle for doody jokes.
Synopsis: A new baby's arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator -- a... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#32

Madagascar (2005)

#32
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: Alex the lion is the king of the urban jungle, the main attraction at New York's Central Park Zoo. He... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

#31
#31
Adjusted Score: 64532%
Critics Consensus: While not without its moments, Shrek Forever After too often feels like a rote rehashing of the franchise's earlier entries.
Synopsis: Long-settled into married life and fully domesticated, Shrek (Mike Myers) begins to long for the days when he felt like... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell

#30
Adjusted Score: 69039%
Critics Consensus: Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa is an improvement on the original, with more fleshed-out characters, crisper animation and more consistent humor.
Synopsis: Alex (Ben Stiller), Morty (Chris Rock) and other zoo animals find a way to escape from Madagascar when the penguins... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath

#29

Turbo (2013)
67%

#29
Adjusted Score: 70149%
Critics Consensus: It's nowhere near as inventive as its off-the-wall premise might suggest, but Turbo boasts just enough colorful visual thrills and sharp voice acting to recommend as undemanding family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Turbo (Ryan Reynolds) is a speed-obsessed snail with an unusual dream: to become the world's greatest racer. This odd snail... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#28
Adjusted Score: 73343%
Critics Consensus: A visually stunning film that may be too predictable and politically correct for adults, but should serve children well.
Synopsis: Follows the adventures of a wild and rambunctious mustang stallion as he journeys through the untamed American frontier. Encountering man... [More]
Directed By: Kelly Asbury, Lorna Cook

#27
#27
Adjusted Score: 81842%
Critics Consensus: A fun follow-up for fans of the original, Trolls World Tour offers a second helping of colorful animation, infectious energy, and sing-along songs.
Synopsis: Poppy and Branch discover that there are six different troll tribes scattered over six different lands. Each tribe is also... [More]
Directed By: Walt Dohrn

#26

The Croods (2013)
72%

#26
Adjusted Score: 76516%
Critics Consensus: While it may not be as (ahem) evolved as the best modern animated fare, The Croods will prove solidly entertaining for families seeking a fast-paced, funny cartoon adventure.
Synopsis: Prehistoric family the Croods live in a particularly dangerous moment in time. Patriarch Grug (Nicolas Cage), his mate, Ugga (Catherine... [More]

#25

Megamind (2010)
72%

#25
Adjusted Score: 78768%
Critics Consensus: It regurgitates plot points from earlier animated efforts, and isn't quite as funny as it should be, but a top-shelf voice cast and strong visuals help make Megamind a pleasant, if unspectacular, diversion.
Synopsis: Though he is the most-brilliant supervillain the world has known, Megamind (Will Ferrell) is the least-successful. Thwarted time and again... [More]
Directed By: Tom McGrath

#24
#24
Adjusted Score: 77452%
Critics Consensus: Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Plucky penguins Skipper (Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), Rico (Conrad Vernon) and Private (Christopher Knights) -- the most elite spies... [More]

#23

Flushed Away (2006)
73%

#23
Adjusted Score: 78576%
Critics Consensus: Clever and appealing for both children and adults, Flushed Away marks a successful entry into digital animated features for Aardman Animations.
Synopsis: After an ignoble landing in Ratropolis, a pampered rodent (Hugh Jackman) enlists the help of a sewer scavenger (Kate Winslet)... [More]
Directed By: David Bowers, Sam Fell

#22
#22
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: When a meteor full of space gunk transforms Susan Murphy (Reese Witherspoon) into a giant, the government renames her Ginormica... [More]

#21
#21
Adjusted Score: 80995%
Critics Consensus: A sort of Avengers for the elementary school set, Rise of the Guardians is wonderfully animated and briskly paced, but it's only so-so in the storytelling department.
Synopsis: Generation after generation, immortal Guardians like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla... [More]
Directed By: Peter Ramsey

#20

Trolls (2016)
75%

#20
Adjusted Score: 84986%
Critics Consensus: Trolls brings its instantly recognizable characters to the big screen in a colorful adventure that, while geared toward the younger set, isn't without rewards for parents.
Synopsis: After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Anna Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious, curmudgeonly Branch (Justin... [More]
Directed By: Mike Mitchell, Walt Dohrn

#19

Over the Hedge (2006)
75%

#19
Adjusted Score: 82244%
Critics Consensus: Even if it's not an animation classic, Over the Hedge is clever and fun, and the jokes cater to family members of all ages.
Synopsis: When Verne (Garry Shandling) and fellow woodland friends awake from winter's hibernation, they find they have some new neighbors: humans,... [More]

#18
#18
Adjusted Score: 86140%
Critics Consensus: Another agreeable outing for the titular prehistoric clan, The Croods: A New Age may be the missing link for parents between more elevated family-friendly fare.
Synopsis: Searching for a safer habitat, the prehistoric Crood family discovers an idyllic, walled-in paradise that meets all of its needs.... [More]
Directed By: Joel Crawford

#17
Adjusted Score: 83312%
Critics Consensus: Dazzlingly colorful and frenetic, Madagascar 3 is silly enough for young kids, but boasts enough surprising smarts to engage parents along the way.
Synopsis: Animal pals Alex (Ben Stiller), Marty (Chris Rock), Melman (David Schwimmer) and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) are still trying to... [More]

#16
#16
Adjusted Score: 83755%
Critics Consensus: The Prince of Egypt's stunning visuals and first-rate voice cast more than compensate for the fact that it's better crafted than it is emotionally involving.
Synopsis: In this animated retelling of the Book of Exodus, Egyptian Prince Moses (Val Kilmer), upon discovering his roots as a... [More]

#15
#15
Adjusted Score: 86569%
Critics Consensus: Mr. Peabody & Sherman offers a surprisingly entertaining burst of colorful all-ages fun, despite its dated source material and rather convoluted plot.
Synopsis: Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell), the most accomplished canine in the world, and his boy, Sherman (Max Charles), use a time... [More]
Directed By: Rob Minkoff

#14

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)
81%

#14
Adjusted Score: 86841%
Critics Consensus: The storyline arc may seem a tad familiar to fans of the original, but Kung Fu Panda 2 offers enough action, comedy, and visual sparkle to compensate.
Synopsis: Now known as the Dragon Warrior, Po (Jack Black) protects the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung... [More]
Directed By: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

#13

Abominable (2019)
82%

#13
Adjusted Score: 91094%
Critics Consensus: Working with admittedly familiar ingredients, Abominable offers audiences a beautifully animated and overall engaging adventure that the whole family can enjoy.
Synopsis: After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an... [More]
Directed By: Jill Culton

#12

Puss in Boots (2011)
86%

#12
Adjusted Score: 92177%
Critics Consensus: It isn't deep or groundbreaking, but what it lacks in profundity, Puss in Boots more than makes up for with an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm.
Synopsis: Long before meeting Shrek, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) -- just named a hero for saving a woman from a... [More]
Directed By: Chris Miller

#11
Adjusted Score: 95753%
Critics Consensus: With a tidy plot, clean animation, and humor that fits its source material snugly, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie is entertainment that won't drive a wedge between family members.
Synopsis: George Beard and Harold Hutchins are two overly imaginative pranksters who spend hours in a treehouse creating comic books. When... [More]
Directed By: David Soren

#10

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)
87%

#10
Adjusted Score: 96901%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda 3 boasts the requisite visual splendor, but like its rotund protagonist, this sequel's narrative is also surprisingly nimble, adding up to animated fun for the whole family.
Synopsis: Living large and loving life, Po (Jack Black) realizes that he has a lot to learn if he's going to... [More]

#9

Kung Fu Panda (2008)
87%

#9
Adjusted Score: 94513%
Critics Consensus: Kung Fu Panda has a familiar message, but the pleasing mix of humor, swift martial arts action, and colorful animation makes for winning Summer entertainment.
Synopsis: Po the panda (Jack Black) works in his family's noodle shop and dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. His dream... [More]

#8

Shrek (2001)
88%

#8
Adjusted Score: 97736%
Critics Consensus: While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.
Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a far away swamp, there lived an ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) whose precious solitude... [More]

#7

Shrek 2 (2004)
89%

#7
Adjusted Score: 96797%
Critics Consensus: It may not be as fresh as the original, but topical humor and colorful secondary characters make Shrek 2 a winner in its own right.
Synopsis: After returning from their honeymoon and showing home movies to their friends, Shrek and Fiona learn that her parents have... [More]

#6
Adjusted Score: 105855%
Critics Consensus: The rare trilogy capper that really works, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings its saga to a visually dazzling and emotionally affecting conclusion.
Synopsis: When the sudden appearance of a female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup... [More]
Directed By: Dean DeBlois

#5
Adjusted Score: 98822%
Critics Consensus: Exciting, emotionally resonant, and beautifully animated, How to Train Your Dragon 2 builds on its predecessor's successes just the way a sequel should.
Synopsis: Five years have passed since Hiccup and Toothless united the dragons and Vikings of Berk. Now, they spend their time... [More]
Directed By: Dean DeBlois, Tom Owens

#4

Antz (1998)
92%

#4
Adjusted Score: 97014%
Critics Consensus: Featuring a stellar voice cast, technically dazzling animation, and loads of good humor, Antz should delight both children and adults.
Synopsis: Z the worker ant (Woody Allen) strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work-ethic of the ant colony.... [More]
Directed By: Eric Darnell, Tim Johnson

#3
Adjusted Score: 102223%
Critics Consensus: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is a subtly touching and wonderfully eccentric adventure featuring Wallace and Gromit.
Synopsis: ... [More]
Directed By: Steve Box

#2

Chicken Run (2000)

#2
Adjusted Score: -1%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Synopsis: This engaging stop-motion, claymation adventure tells the story of an American rooster who falls in love with a gorgeous hen... [More]
Directed By: Peter Lord, Nick Park

#1
#1
Adjusted Score: 105999%
Critics Consensus: Boasting dazzling animation, a script with surprising dramatic depth, and thrilling 3-D sequences, How to Train Your Dragon soars.
Synopsis: Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is a Norse teenager from the island of Berk, where fighting dragons is a way of life.... [More]

Doctor Stephen Strange Marvel Cinematic Universe Necromancer Sauron The Hobbit series Grinch The Grinch (Nov. 9, 2018 release) tiger photo standing in for Shere Khan (courtesy of Getty) Alan Turing The Imitation Game Thomas Edison The Current War Peter Guillam Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Classified Penguins of Madagascar Hamlet National Theatre Live Richard III The Hollow Crown Smaug The Hobbit series Severus Snape The Simpsons Khan Star Trek: Into Darkness Sherlock Holmes Sherlock Patrick Melrose Patrick Melrose (premieres 5/12) Julian Assange The Fifth Estate (Walt Disney Pictures; Warner Bros.; Todd Antony/Hartswood Films 2016 for MASTERPIECE; The Weinstein Company)

What happens when Benedict Cumberbatch goes head-to-head with … Benedict Cumberbatch? The British thespian’s biggest parts squared off against each other in an epic battle for character supremacy.

In a harrowing final contest that was neck-and-neck all the way through, Sherlock Holmes of Masterpiece series Sherlock wins by a hair! With 6,740 votes cast, Sherlock prevailed by only 41 votes over Avengers: Infinity War’s magical MVP.

Sherlock Holmes – 3,392 (50.3%)
Doctor Stephen Strange – 3,351 (49.7%)


How it worked

Voting began at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT on each of the following days:

  • COMPLETED! Monday, April 30 – vote in the Round 1 matches. (See round 1 results)
  • COMPLETED! Tuesday, May 1 – find out who won the Round 1 matches, and vote in Round 2. (See round 2 results)
  • COMPLETED! Wednesday, May 2 – find out who won the Round 2 matches, and vote in Round 3. (See round 3 results)
  • COMPLETED! Thursday, May 3 – find out who won the Round 3 matches, and vote in Round 4.
  • Friday, May 4 – find out who wins the Benedict Cumber-bracket!

Final Round

Results: Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3

Ever since 1998 and into this Friday’s release of Kung Fu Panda 3, DreamWorks Animation has emerged as one of the dominant forces in animated storytelling worldwide, whose blend of state-of-the-art tech and raucous contemporary humor has carved their own identity in our current cartoon renaissance. Kung Fu Panda 3 inspires this week’s 24 Frames gallery, in which we explore the nearly two-decade history of DreamWorks Animation.

Newly available for purchase on streaming this week are the second installment in a popular young adult sci-fi franchise and the fourth season of a hit HBO comedy series. Then, on subscription services, we’ve got a critically acclaimed animated comedy, and animated spinoff, the final season of a popular musical TV series, and more. Read on for details:

Available for purchase


Insurgent
28%

Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her fellow Divergents are on the run from evil overlord Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet), who wants to exterminate the rebels and take control of futuristic Chicago’s various factions.

Available now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play


Veep: Season Four

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars in HBO’s hit comedy focused on US Vice President Selina Meyer and her eccentric staff.

Available in DigitalHD now on: Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Google Play

New on Netflix


Bojack Horseman: Season Two

In this Netflix original animated comedy, Will Arnett lends his voice to the title character, a washed-up former sitcom star — who happens to be an anthropomorphic horse — attempting to make a comeback and dealing with various personal issues.

Available now on: Netflix


Creep
90%

Mark Duplass and director Patrick Brice star in Brice’s psychological thriller about an amateur videographer who agrees to film a man who lives in the woods for a day, only to discover the man may not be all that he seems.

Available now on: Netflix


Penguins of Madagascar
73%

As the nefarious octopus Octavious Brine (voiced by John Malkovich) plots against the world’s penguins, sour old penguin pals Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private join forces with a husky named Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team of animal spies to thwart him.

Available now on: Netflix


Glee: Season Six

After 121 episodes and over 700 musical performances — as well as the tragic death of one of its stars — Fox’s hit series about a high school glee club came to an end with its sixth season, now available to stream.

Available now on: Netflix


Changeling

Angelina Jolie earned an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Christine Collins, a Los Angeles woman whose son’s abduction in 1928 was only the beginning of an unbelievable ordeal that would go on to include her forced institutionalization and one of the most callous, bizarre cover-ups in law enforcement history.

Available now on: Netflix

New on Hulu


Welcome to Sweden: Season Two

Greg Poehler stars as a high-profile financial manager who uproots his life in New York to move to Stockholm for his Swedish girlfriend Emma (Josephine Bornebusch), whose friends and family he hopes to impress.

Available now on: Hulu

New on Fandor


Brothers Hypnotic
100%

This documentary profiles a band comprised of the offspring of jazz legend Phil Cohran.

Available now on: Fandor


My Brilliant Career
85%

Judy Davis and Sam Neill star in this period drama about a free-spirited 19th Century Australian woman struggling for independence from the societal norms of her time.

Available now on: Fandor



Insurgent

28%

Rating: PG-13, for intense violence and action throughout, some sensuality, thematic elements and brief language.

The sequel to last year’s Divergent might be even more violent and intense than its predecessor. It’s also oppressively dour. But because the film carries a PG-13 rating — to make it accessible to the tweens and young teens who also were the target audience for the YA novel source material — there’s minimal bloodshed accompanying the massive gunfire. This time, the rebellious Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her boyfriend, Four (Theo James), are hiding out with some other folks, trying to figure out how best to take down the totalitarian dictator Jeanine (Kate Winslet). But Jeanine is after Tris, too, to put her through a series of simulations which will open a magical box that contains an important message, or something. This sometimes means Tris must endure harrowing imagery and fight dangerous battles. In real life, she and Four also have sex, but we don’t really see anything; the act is implied through kissing and naked backs. If your kids have seen the first film, they’re in for a lot of the same here.

New On DVD:



Penguins of Madagascar

73%

Rating: PG, for mild action and some rude humor.

The playful penguins who stole every scene in the Madagascar series have gotten a movie of their own. Part origin story and part spin-off, it explains how Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private became globetrotting super spies and it follows them on an all-new adventure. John Malkovich lends his rich voice to the shape-shifting bad guy they’re after: an angry octopus who’s pretending to be a mad scientist. He kidnaps penguins from zoos and aquariums around the world with plans to inject them with a serum that will turn them into hideous versions of themselves. He hopes they’ll seem less appealing to the masses, but they actually become more silly than frightening. The penguins end up in several dangerous situations but they always find a way to escape. There’s a lot of silly spanking among the animals as well as some fart jokes and flatulence puns, but it’s the kind of harmless, puerile humor that routinely cracks kids up. Nothing here is shocking or inappropriate. This is totally suitable for all ages, although a lot of the pop-culture gags are just for us grown-ups.



Annie

28%

Rating: PG, for some mild language and rude humor.

This movie is terrible. But if it’s the only family-friendly film available for rental… well, it’s still terrible. It’s a modern-day version of the enduring stage musical, which has been moved from the Great Depression to present day Manhattan. This time, the plucky orphan Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) moves in with a billionaire cell-phone mogul (Jamie Foxx) and melts his heart… in song! The celebration of materialism is seriously amped up here, which is sort of depressing. Annie enjoys a helicopter ride around New York City and hands out free phones to her foster-kid friends. Cameron Diaz is rather shrill and inept as Miss Hannigan but she’s not as intimidating as she’s been in previous versions; she’s more pathetic than anything else. And Annie briefly finds herself in danger when she goes off with a couple who pretend to be her birth parents, but she’s not hurt in any way. Suitable for all ages.



Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

Rating: PG, for violence including battle sequences and intense images.

Mature tweens and older will probably be fine watching this massive biblical epic from director Ridley Scott, which makes his Oscar-winning Gladiator look like a tiny indie by comparison. With the use of massive visual effects, Scott tells the Old Testament story of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom. That means plagues — lots and lots of plagues — from frogs to locusts to boils. (The boils are especially gross.) And because everything has gotten so chaotic and overpopulated under the reign of the inept Ramses (Joel Edgerton), slaves are thrown into enormous fires to thin out the city. There are also several elaborate battle scenes, perilous chariot chases and a pummeling wall of water once Moses (Christian Bale) has finished parting the Red Sea. And be warned: besides the violence and the subject matter, the film runs nearly two and a half hours, which might be quite a slog for younger viewers.

This week on home video, we’ve got an Oscar nominee, a surprisingly successful animated spinoff, a Biblical epic, and an ill-advised remake. Then we’ve got a few decent choices in the smaller releases, including Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy and a couple of selections from the Criterion Collection. Read on for details:


Annie (2014) 28%

First it was a comic strip, then it was a musical, and then it was a film (twice), so it’s sort of understandable that the makers of 2014’s Annie — whose producers include such names as Will Smith and Jay-Z — would want to do things a little differently this time. Plus, they hired a few talented actors and the adorable star of Beasts of the Southern Wild to play the titular orphan. What could go wrong? A lot, according to the critics, who saddled the film with a 28 percent Tomatometer score for its reliance on clichés, syrupy sweetness, oddly staged musical numbers, and crass messaging. Quvenzhané Wallis is as charismatic as ever as the little girl who’s swept into the political machinations of wealthy mayoral candidate Benjamin Stacks (Jamie Foxx), who initially uses Annie for her PR value but ultimately falls for her charm. But essentially everything else about this production rubbed critics the wrong way, which renders this remake a missed opportunity.


Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) 28%

Speaking of missed opportunities, who could have predicted a biblical epic directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale would have misfired as badly as Exodus: Gods and Kings did? Maybe people were burnt out on Old Testament stories by high profile directors, having already witnessed what Darren Aronofsky did with Noah back in March. Whatever the case, Scott’s retelling of Moses’ (Bale) journey was poorly received by both critics and audiences alike, earning a lukewarm box office total and earning a 28 percent score to match Annie‘s. Exodus has its moments, critics said, but the updated visual effects and few story embellishments (Moses as a sword-wielding general?) weren’t quite enough to erase memories of The Ten Commandments, and the newer film suffered from the comparison. For those who are interested, however, the Blu-ray release features a historical guide, a number of deleted or extended scenes, and few featurettes exclusive to the 3D release if you decide to go that route.


Song of the Sea (2014) 98%

Back in 2009, director Tomm Moore’s film The Secret of Kells earned an Oscar nod for Best Animated Feature, thanks to an enchanting mythological tale and its unique, hand-drawn art style. Earlier this year, he repeated the feat with Song of the Sea, which employed those same signature elements en route to an impressive Certified Fresh 98 percent on the Tomatometer and another Academy Award nomination. Song explores the Celtic myth of the selkie, a creature that takes the form of a seal underwater and that of a human on land, as told through the story of a young boy named Ben and his young sister Saoirse, who live in a lighthouse with their father. When Saoirse discovers a shell flute that plays a mystical tune, they learn a magical secret about their mother, who passed away years earlier. Song of the Sea is visually spectacular and rich in story, which makes it both an artful film and an excellent choice for family viewing.


Penguins of Madagascar (2014) 72%

DreamWorks Animation’s Madagascar franchise is one of the rare few that has gotten better with each installment, and it’s been so successful that a few of the side characters — The Penguins of Madagascar — got their own TV show on Nickelodeon. In 2014, those pesky penguins even got their own movie, and it turned out pretty good. Unrelated in plot to the TV series, Penguins of Madagascar follows Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private as they attempt to thwart the nefarious plans of Dr. Octavius Brine (John Malkovich), an octopus with an anti-penguin vendetta, after a dashing wolf (Benedict Cumberbatch) recruits them into his super-secret spy organization. Thanks to its vibrant colors, brisk pacing, and manic silliness, Penguins of Madagascar entertained most critics and earned a 72 percent on the Tomatometer. Its constant, frantic energy might be a bit too much for some adults to handle, but it’s harmless fun that will certainly keep the kids occupied for a while.


 

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

The Way He Looks (2014) (91 percent), a Brazilian coming-of-age story about the struggles of a blind teenager.
Top Five (2014) (88 percent), Chris Rock’s Certified Fresh comedy about a comedian (Rock) who reflects on his life as he’s being interviewed by a journalist (Rosario Dawson).
Son of a Gun (2014) (60 percent), starring Ewan McGregor and Brenton Thwaites in an Australian crime thriller about a petty criminal on the run with a notorious armed robber after the pair break out of jail.
Vice (2015) (0 percent), starring Bruce Willis and Thomas Jane in a futuristic thriller about a lifelike robot who becomes self-aware and escapes from a pleasure resort.
The Soft Skin (1964) (91 percent), François Truffaut’s 1964 drama about a married literary scholar who engages in an affair with a stewardess, gets a new Criterion Blu-ray this week.

Ken Jeong, Tom McGrath and Pitbull from Penguins of Madagascar talk to Grae Drake about their greatest adventures. Check it out:



For the sixth consecutive year, the Thanksgiving holiday session was ruled by a leftover literary-based sequel as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
remained at number one with an estimated $56.9M in ticket sales over the Friday-to-Sunday span. Across the five-day weekend from Wednesday-to-Sunday, the latest Katniss adventure amassed a stellar $82.7M. New releases did not come close to reaching these heights.

Looking at the most obvious comp – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire which was released this same way last year – Mockingjay is eroding at the same rate. Both fell by 53% on the second weekend which was the turkey frame. Given the new film’s smaller opening weekend and harsher fan feedback, having the same drop is a win. Threequels tend to fade faster. Mockingjay opened 23% below Fire and the ten-day cume of $225.7M is 24% behind so it is still playing out in similar fashion. Fire stood at a towering $296.3M at this same point in its release.

But the Panem franchise sets a high bar. Overall, Mockingjay enjoyed the third largest five-day Thanksgiving feast in history beating out the many Twilight and Harry Potter films that were released in mid-November. The only movies to ever gobble up larger slices of the holiday pie were last year’s awesome twosome – Catching Fire with $109.9M and Frozen‘s opening of $93.6M. So though weaker, Mockingjay still attracted terrific business for Lionsgate. Should it continue to follow Fire‘s trajectory over the coming weeks, it would finish its domestic run in the vicinity of $320M which would mean it would not surpass Guardians of the Galaxy to become 2014’s biggest hit. Marvel’s super hero squad stands at $331.9M and is still in the Top 20 in its 18th weekend.

Overseas markets are healthy with an additional $67M this weekend boosting the international cume to $254.4M for a worldwide sum of $480.1M. While domestic is 24% behind Fire, the global take is only 16% lower as markets around the world are not losing as many fans this time around as the U.S. is. U.K. leads with $32.8M.

DreamWorks Animation suffered another setback as its latest offering – and third this year – Penguins of Madagascar opened to mild results in second place with an estimated $25.8M over the Friday-to-Sunday period. The PG-rated spinoff collected $36M over the five-day Thanksgiving holiday span. The three-day period averaged $6,854 from 3,764 locations with the comical bird team generating only the sixth best toon opening of 2014. Debuting better this year were The LEGO Movie, Big Hero 6, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Rio 2, and Mr. Peabody and Sherman – and none of them had holiday help.

Reviews were fairly good for Penguins and the only major competitor in the top ten was Disney’s Hero which has enjoyed good legs. The Thanksgiving marketplace usually expands to accommodate multiple toons – if paying audiences are actually excited about them. But for Penguins, the five-day gross was weaker than the three-day openings for every past Madagascar film (the last two bowed to $60M+). Granted, top stars like Ben Stiller and Chris Rock were not part of this new installment, but most films from DreamWorks Animation do better. 13 of their last 15 films opened higher than Penguins.

The new offering did, however, perform somewhat better than the studio’s Rise of the Guardians which also launched over Thanksgiving weekend. Penguins opened 11% better than Rise which two years ago signaled problems for DreamWorks. It has three more animated films on the calendar for 2015 which will continue to test the demands of the public. Families may not need this much content.

Penguins had broad appeal as the audience skewed 51% female according to distributor Fox. 58% were over 25, 52% were non-white, and the CinemaScore grade was a good A-. 3D screens accounted for 24% of the gross which is fairly normal for a toon. With $36M from 44 overseas markets, the global cume for Penguins stands at $72M.

Families were still interested in the buzzworthy Disney toon Big Hero 6 which collected an estimated $18.8M in its fourth weekend, off just 7%. With $167.2M so far, it is running 12% ahead of the pace of the studio’s Wreck-it Ralph from this time two years ago and may finish with around $210M. The global tally currently stands at $224.1M with most major markets not open yet.

Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller Interstellar inched up 3% from last weekend and grossed an estimated $15.8M in its fourth round. Paramount has banked a strong $147.1M to date and looks headed for a finish in the $180-190M range from North America. The space flick has done exceptionally well on IMAX screens where it has grossed a stellar $91M worldwide to date which already is fourth best in company history with more cash to come.

Overseas markets are still rocking with a $44.4M weekend pushing the international cume up to $395.2M for Warner Bros. for a global tally of $542.3M. China crossed the century mark this weekend with $106M to date while Korea has also been a standout with $61M with European territories far behind. Breaking $700M worldwide is possible.

Continuing the bad year for R-rated comedies, Horrible Bosses 2 landed in fifth place with an estimated opening of $15.7M over three days and $23M since its Wednesday launch. The weak results saw the five-day holiday opening fall below the $28.3M three-day non-holiday launch of its 2011 predecessor. That film was a surprise leggy hit that summer grossing $117.5M so greenlighting another chapter was not surprising, but audiences this weekend voted and said this was an unnecessary sequel. The three leads Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day all returned as did Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey who reprised their colorful characters.

Reviews were mostly negative – not surprising for a comedy sequel. Warner Bros. was hoping to see the significant growth it saw between the first two Hangover comedies, but this was not the case. Bosses 2 also offered a storyline that was very similar to the first film – the three inept men resort to kidnapping instead of murder this time. R-rated films have never done well at Thanksgiving time when audiences tend to gravitate towards cheery, more wholesome fare. In fact, only two of the Top 20 Thanksgiving openings of all time were rated R. According to studio research, the audience for Horrible Bosses 2 was 51% male and 59% over 25 and the CinemaScore grade was a decent B+.

Suffering one of the worst drops among wide releases was another crude comedy sequel, Dumb and Dumber To, which fell 41% to an estimated $8.3M giving Universal $72.2M to date. Oscar hopeful The Theory of Everything expanded nationwide from 140 to 802 locations and grossed an estimated $5.1M for a solid $6,337 average. Focus has banked $9.6M to date and hopes to keep the run going as word-of-mouth spreads for the genius romance.

The durable hit Gone Girl followed with an estimated $2.5M, off 13%, for a new total of $160.8M for Fox. David Fincher’s latest has now spent nine weeks in the top ten, second only to Guardians of the Galaxy‘s ten among all 2014 releases this year. 2013 holdover Frozen spent 11 weeks in the top ten during this calendar year. Girl stands a great chance at extending its streak to ten next weekend with nothing big opening in the marketplace.

Indie hits rounded out the top ten. Fox Searchlight’s Birdman was even with last weekend taking in an estimated $1.9M for a new total of $17.2M. The Weinstein Co. saw St. Vincent slide 21% to an estimated $1.8M. Cume is $39.3M.

The Weinstein Co. also generated a sensational kickoff for the Oscar run of its promising contender The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch with a platform debut of an estimated $482,000 from only four locations for an eye-popping $120,500 average. It was the second best opening weekend average of 2014 behind only the $202,792 of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel back in March. Game was able to top the $106,099 of rival awards contender Birdman from last month.

With excellent reviews and Cumberbatch looking like a favorite in the Best Actor race, the World War II-set drama will slowly expand beyond New York and Los Angeles in the coming weeks with six new markets on December 12 and a nationwide roll-out at Christmas. Weinstein is using the same strategy it successfully executed four years ago for another British film, The King’s Speech, which also platformed over Thanksgiving weekend in four theaters averaging $88,863 before going national on Christmas weekend and using Oscar season to grow its North American total to a mammoth $135.5M.

Elsewhere below the top ten, Denzel Washington scored the fifth $100M+ domestic hit of his career with The Equalizer which passed the mark in its tenth weekend of release. The bankable double Oscar winner has starred in 14 films grossing over $75M domestic. None were sequels.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $152.5M which was down 20% from last Thanksgiving when The Hunger Games: Catching Fire stayed at number one with $74.2M; and down 23% from 2012’s holiday when The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 remained in the top spot with $43.6M.

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This week at the movies, we’ve got funny flightless birds (Penguins of Madagascar, with voice performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich) and desperate businessmen (Horrible Bosses 2, starring Jason Bateman and Jason Sudeikis). What do the critics have to say?


Penguins Of Madagascar

73%

The Madagascar movies are certainly a few cuts below, say, the Toy Story films, but give credit where it’s due: each entry has been better-reviewed than the last. Now, the scene-stealing penguins get their own movie, and critics say Penguins of Madagascar is an energetic, silly spy comedy that’s sure to please the little ones (and maybe earn a few smiles from their older companions). The nefarious octopus Octavious Brine (voiced by John Malkovich) is plotting against the world’s penguins, sour old penguin pals Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private join forces with a husky named Classified (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his team of animal spies to thwart him. The pundits say some parents may find Penguins of Madagascar a little too manic, but it’s got plenty of witty lines and madcap action scenes to please the kids.



Horrible Bosses 2

35%

The first Horrible Bosses was a funny revenge fantasy with a serious undercurrent: it drew its dark laughs from our collective economic anxiety. Unfortunately, critics say Horrible Bosses 2 trades topical humor for tastelessness, stranding its talented ensemble in a sloppy narrative. This time out, our heroes (played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day) have formed their own company and inked a deal with wealthy retailer Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) to get their product in stores. But when Bert tries to double-cross them, our would-be entrepreneurs decide to kidnap his son and hold him for ransom. The pundits say that the stars keep Horrible Bosses 2 watchable from time to time, but they’re let down by a thin script that turns juvenile and misanthropic a little too quickly. (Check out as our video interviews with the stars here.)

Certified Fresh on TV:


The pundits say The Missing (Certified Fresh at 96 percent) turns a common premise into a standout thriller, thanks to heartfelt, affecting performances.


Substantially similar to its predecessor in all the best ways, critics say this new season of The Comeback (Certified Fresh at 83 percent) thrives on Lisa Kudrow’s starring performance as Valerie Cherish.

Also opening this week in limited release:

In Theaters This Week:



Penguins of Madagascar

73%

Rating: PG, for mild action and some rude humor.

The scene-stealing penguins from the Madagascar series get their own movie, which is sort of an origin story and sort of a spin-off. It explains how the foursome — Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private — became globetrotting super spies, and it follows them on an all-new adventure. John Malkovich provides the rich voice of the shape-shifting villain who’s their target: an angry octopus who’s pretending to be a mad scientist. He kidnaps penguins from zoos and aquariums around the world and plans to zap them with a serum that will turn them into monstrous versions of themselves. His hope is that they’ll seem less adorable and appealing to the masses, but what they become is more silly than frightening. The penguins find themselves in several perilous situations but always manage to escape. There’s a lot of playful spanking among the animals as well as some fart jokes and double entendres about flatulence, but it’s the kind of harmless, puerile humor that routinely cracks kids up. Nothing here is shocking or inappropriate. Fine for all ages, although a lot of the pop-culture references are purely for adults.

New On DVD:



The Giver

35%

Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence.

Mature tweens and older are probably the appropriate audience for this sci-fi drama/thriller — yet another based on a Young Adult novel set in a rigidly structured, post-war future. Brenton Thwaites stars as Jonas, the obligatory, plucky teen who dares to rise up and shake up the status quo. Jonas is chosen as the keeper of all memory in this sterile, black-and-white community; Jeff Bridges is the giver of the film’s title, who passes along the information he’s been storing. This includes color, music and love but also violence, war and hatred, with a series of harrowing images flashing through the young man’s mind as he receives them. Jonas and his girlfriend, Fiona (Odeya Rush), find themselves in danger when it becomes clear to the elders (led by Meryl Streep, of all people) that they’ve started thinking for themselves. There’s also a disturbing subplot involving the killing of infants who don’t meet the community’s precise standards.



Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

20%

Rating: PG-13, for sexual references, crude humor and language.

Nearly a year after it arrived in theaters, this raunchy and racially tinged Christmas comedy is coming out on DVD. Think of it as a lump of cinematic coal in your stocking. But if you’re home flipping channels after a long day of shopping and it pops up, or if it happens to be on television at a holiday party, there’s nothing here that will permanently scar your children. It’s just sloppily made, as all Tyler Perry movies tend to be. This time, Perry climbs back into the sassy drag of his Madea persona, a crass and wacky old lady with no internal censor. Most of the stuff she babbles about will go over kids’ heads: references to lingerie, drugs andstrippers, for starters. Larry the Cable Guy shows up and amps up the vulgarity with some sexual innuendos — which, again, probably won’t register with young viewers. There’s also a massively contrived car crash and explosion that might have been slightly suspenseful in the hands of someone, you know, capable.

Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich are the newest additions to the Madagascar universe in Penguins of Madagascar. In honor of the great adventure that Skipper, Kowalski, Private, and Rico go on, Grae Drake asks them what they consider their greatest adventure to be.

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Ep. 072 – Holiday Movie Preview
Welcome to the Rotten Tomatoes podcast with Editor in Chief Matt Atchity and Senior Editor Grae Drake. This week they are joined by Senior Editor Tim Ryan and Editor Ryan Fujitani aka The Velvet Smog to talk about the most important movies coming in the Fall and Winter season all the way from Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar to Tim Burton’s Big Eyes.

Matt Atchity talks to John Malkovich and the cast and crew of The Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con.



Matt Atchity talks to Benedict Cumberbatch at San Diego Comic Con about Penguins of Madagascar movie.



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