Top 10 Times DreamWorks Movies Tackled Serious Issues
VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch
WRITTEN BY: B Stevenson
From centering on princes or pandas, DreamWorks has tackled a lot of serious issues. For this list, we'll be looking at times when films produced or released by DreamWorks Animation dealt with heavy and poignant topics. Our countdown includes "Shrek," "Bee Movie," "Antz," and more!
Top 10 Times DreamWorks Movies Tackled Serious Issues
Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times DreamWorks Movies Tackled Serious Issues.
For this list, we’ll be looking at times when films produced or released by DreamWorks Animation dealt with heavy and poignant topics.
Did we miss any weighty moments in this studio’s catalog? Let us know in the comments below!
#10: The Importance of Bees
“Bee Movie” (2007)
This film may have become internet meme fodder, but it still has an important message to get across. In a somewhat unusual narrative, it follows a honey bee who launches a legal case against humans for taking advantage of his species. Little does he realize, the abrupt end of honey production will have a number of severe effects on global ecosystems. Thankfully, our hero Barry B. Benson is able to team up with the human Vanessa to save the world’s flowers. Ultimately, both the film’s twist and its happy ending emphasize how underappreciated these insects are.
#9: Spirit's Mistreatment
“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” (2002)
It’s never easy to watch animals being abused on screen, even when they’re animated. It’s no surprise, then, that our stallion hero’s journey from freedom to captivity and back again is so compelling. He’s taken from his home by a group of wranglers, and he ends up in the clutches of The Colonel, a man with a serious mean streak. Despite his captors’ many attempts to tame him, the stallion’s spirit amazingly isn’t broken. It’s not always pleasant viewing, to be sure. But it is enough to make viewers rethink the ways domesticated animals can be treated.
#8: The Chickens’ Captivity
“Chicken Run” (2000)
Issues with livestock production aren’t exactly a secret. Although it certainly has a humorous tone, “Chicken Run” tackles these problems through its depiction of Mrs. Tweedy. She and her husband own a gaggle of egg-laying hens who are desperate to get out. Unfortunately, things only go further downhill once Mrs. Tweedy hatches a plot to maximize profits. Rather than simply scooping up her chickens’ eggs, the farmer decides to start a meat pie business. Her absolutely scary demeanor makes us feel terrible for the animals and root for their escape. When watching this adventure comedy, viewers are reminded to treat the critters around them with kindness.
#7: Shrek & Fiona Are Judged For Their Looks
With the likes of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy starring, this movie is definitely hilarious. But it still manages to get some important messages across, particularly around bullying and judging books by their covers. The central character is an ogre reviled by many around him, despite his relatively kind-hearted nature. In one scene in particular, he opens up to Donkey about these struggles. Little does he know, his tenuous love interest Princess Fiona has been dealing with much the same problem. Having spent most of her life in total isolation due to her part-ogre identity, she arguably lived an even worse life than Shrek. Considering what the characters go through, this flick clearly makes a case for unconditional respect.
#6: Environmental Conservation
“Over the Hedge” (2006)
This comedy focuses on a close-knit community of woodland creatures who are affected by habitat destruction. Thankfully, a raccoon named RJ gives them the tools to ensure their survival. Unfortunately, he has his own ulterior motive, and their theft of human goods is only a band-aid solution. The real problem is the humans who have pushed their developments into previously forested land. The issue isn’t exactly resolved by the end of the film, although a homeowner is arrested for vicious pest-control techniques. But “Over the Hedge” does make the stakes of habitat conservation painfully clear.
#5: A Workers’ Revolution
Kid-friendly films don’t always have a political bent, but this movie is a notable exception. It follows Z, an ant struggling with his colony’s conservative and conformist ways. Although his position as a worker ant is essential to his community, he and his peers are treated as mere cogs in a machine. Z’s actions cause his fellow workers to question their circumstances, which conflicts with the plans of General Mandible and his executives. Of course, the General claims that his orders are for the good of the group, but that isn’t always the case. Ultimately, it’s only by breaking rank and working together that the ants can save themselves from a grim fate. And if that isn’t motivational material, we don’t know what is.
#4: Hiccup Loses His Father
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (2014)
Drago Bludvist is the antagonist in this acclaimed sequel, and he makes a thoroughly hateable villain. This is in large part because of his terrible actions towards Hiccup and his family. At a crucial point midway through the film, Drago’s mind-controlling Bewilderbeast has Hiccup’s dragon Toothless under its sway. In a tragic turn of events, Stoick saves Hiccup from execution at his own peril. The loss is devastating for obvious reasons, and the funeral scene that follows is hard to watch. With Hiccup having lost part of his leg in the first film, the series doesn’t shy away from portraying difficult experiences. But Stoick’s loss poses a particularly huge challenge to our hero’s confidence and sense of purpose.
#3: The Boov Colonize Earth
DreamWorks movies may play to a predominantly young audience, but that doesn’t mean a full-scale alien invasion is off the table. In fact, the Boov’s takeover is about as nice as possible. But that isn’t saying much. The reality is that they displace the entire Earth’s population and happily take their place. The exception, of course, is one young girl named Tip. To make matters worse, the Boov consider humans to be totally inferior to them. It might be obvious to some viewers that taking over another population’s land simply isn’t okay. But it’s notable that an upbeat film like “Home” makes this topic a central focus.
#2: The Pandas’ Destruction
“Kung Fu Panda 2” (2011)
Perhaps the darkest storyline in the entire “Kung Fu Panda” film series comes about in the second film. Considering that Po is a panda while his father is a duck, it was plain to see that our hero was adopted. But the specifics of his backstory were unknown in the first movie. As it turns out, during Po’s infancy, a peacock named Lord Shen heard a prophecy that he’d be defeated by a panda. To prevent this fate, he decimated the bears’ population, with Po seemingly the only survivor. Growing up not knowing one’s family is hard enough as is. But realizing that your entire community was destroyed is downright devastating.
#1: The Enslavement of the Hebrew People
“The Prince of Egypt” (1998)
This flick draws from the Old Testament, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s somewhat serious viewing. But for the unacquainted, the grim context of Moses’ story may come as a surprise. Our protagonist is born among the enslaved Hebrew people in ancient Egypt. To make matters even more dire, he narrowly escapes a dark and unforgivable crime that was ordered by the Pharaoh. He’s adopted into the royal family, but once he realizes his true identity he stands up for his people. Suffice it to say, the Ten Plagues he inflicts on the Egyptian ruling class are not for the faint of heart.