One the one hand, I don't think Pixar guys care too much if Dreamworks does well because it's not like it's the kind of industry where you can over-saturate the market and people stop showing up for one company's films. The article is something that I think people on the outside have created, and I'd bet that Dreamworks sees this as a rivalry. I say that because, while a lot of Apple fanatics complain about who stole what from Apple, Dreamworks has no shame in taking Pixar's ideas, or rather settings, wholesale at times. I mean, they're paying particular attention to what Pixar is doing, what their subjects are and when they're coming out with stuff. It's no coincidence that the Shrek 2 DVD came out on Friday.
First Pixar made A Bug's Life, then Dreamwork's Ants was made and actually beat Pixar's film to theaters. Shrek is fairly original, more of a riff on Disney films than a Pixar one, unless you want to argue that the title character has some vague resemblance to Sully in Monsters Inc. I think Dreamworks gets a pass on that one. Anyway, after Finding Nemo, A Shark's Tale comes out. They're all different movies, but it's like Dreamworks cribbed the notes in Variety about the Pixar films and wrote their own stories around them. I'm just waiting for Dreamworks' next animated feature to be about a family of superheroes or maybe about race cars.
Anyway, the Dreamworks films are non-stop in-jokes. How many kids are going to get all the Godfather references in A Shark's Tale? I don't know how kids find them funny when all the jokes are referring to things they've mostly never seen or didn't experience. I mean, we see plenty of parody, satire and homage in other comedies, but they either play to an older audience or they add it as another layer to the jokes. When I saw Shrek 2 with friends and all those kids were laughing at the 80's Flashdance references and whatnot, I decided that kids somehow laugh when they're expected to, not necessarily when they find something funny. I mean, some of that stuff was really funny because I knew what they were making fun of, but by the end I was tired of that stuff too because it was just one in-joke after another. Even the Simpsons mixes it up with their own jokes that are actually topical to the plot.
I agree that the animation, by attempting to make the characters and settings more realistic, actually makes it much worse. I probably won't be able to stand The Polar Express because it makes the same mistake. There should be a set of commandments for 3D animation, the first being that the more real you try to make your characters look, the less believable they will be. The human eye can spot the slightest incongruity in a human character's movements, and it takes me right out of the film when I see it. (I could spot problems in the LotR trilogy the same way. Drove me nuts.) I have a much easier time accepting (aka, suspending disbelief) if the features and movements are actually exaggerated. Still, I know plenty of people who think that Shrek's human characters exceed anything Pixar or even 2D anime have done, and will think the same of The Polar Express. Hey, plenty of people think this Gateway
is pretty nice too.