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Movie Review: Shrek 2

Shrek 2
Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, and Conrad Vernon
Written by Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stern, David N. Weiss based on the book Shrek! by William Steig
Dreamworks, 2004

Shrek 2 currently has the status of being the biggest hit of the new millennium, the third highest grossing film of all-time, in North America.  A huge original film coupled with a tremendous following on video led to this phenomenon, one that beat even the Spider-Man sequel in 2004.

And yet, I’ve never gotten into the Shrek universe as easily as others.  And I ask myself, “Why does it seem like everyone gets into Shrek and I don’t?”  I think the answer lies in the fact that I don’t think these movies are nearly as clever as the filmmakers of Shrek think they are.  But since these movies do show some traits of cleverness, it’s enough for most people.  The fine line lies on how much the filmmakers want you to know how in on the joke they are.  This is what I find bothersome about the franchise.  Add to that copious amounts of fart and nad-whomping jokes and the cleverness that the movies like to advertise crumbles even more.

In Shrek 2, the ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) has married the now-ogre Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and they look forward to a honeymoon.  But word about Fiona’s marriage, if not her transformation, has reached the kingdom of Far Far Away, and her parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) want to meet the new husband.  So, taking along Donkey (Eddie Murphy), the newlyweds travel to Far Far Away, knowing this is probably a bad idea.

The King and Queen believe that the husband is Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who was set out on a quest to find Fiona only to find out Shrek beat him to it.  When they meet Shrek, Fiona’s parents are less than pleased, but at least the Queen is open-minded.  However, the King had made a pact with Prince Charming’s mom, Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), that would have ensured her son and Fiona’s union.  First, she tries to get the King to make it right, and he hires the ogre-slaying Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas), who fails and ends up on Shrek’s side.  Then, after a stolen potion changes Shrek into a handsome prince and Donkey into a stallion, she takes matters into her own hands and tries to drive Shrek and Fiona apart while getting Charming back into the picture.

Occasionally, the picture hits some good laughs.   My favorites involve Puss In Boots, given life by Banderas.  Once again, Shrek 2 does as its predecessor did and skewers the conventions of fairy tales and adds subversive personalities to classic fairy tale characters.  But once again, I just didn’t find this as funny or emotionally involving as the filmmakers would hope.  I feel like comedy of this sort should be as straight-faced as possible.  Even if I’m misreading the presentation (and that is to criticize how I watch a movie), I can’t see this being any funnier or better.  I can see why others get into it.  It’s simply not my preferred comic delivery.

Shrek 2 went on to gross over $441 million, one of seven films all-time to ever go over the $400 million mark.  Despite this, Brad Bird’s awesome Pixar collaboration The Incredibles beat Shrek 2 for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.  


Comment from Jonathan Watkins
Time: April 26, 2007, 10:51 pm

I was pretty ho-hum about the first one as well, and as much as I’ve tried when it pops up on cable, I have never been able to make it through this installment, and have no interest in seeing the third one. So, I’m in your camp here. I think Dreamworks had the right idea early on with tighter stories and more subtle humor in Antz and Chicken Run, but then they figured the only way to hang with Pixar was just to go much bigger and broader. And as of right now, sadly, it’s working. Not that Pixar isn’t making any money, but a Shrek movie outdoing something as brilliant as The Incredibles or Finding Nemo is just annoying to say the least. And then after Shrek, what do you have? Over the Hedge, freaking Madagascar which is also getting a sequel. Granted, I liked some stupid shit too when I was a kid, but even adults enjoy this. So, maybe we’re the sourpusses here.

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