Shrek 2 (2004)
Shrek 2 (2004)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Release Date: May 19th, 2004 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon Actors: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders

 


 

A

stunning achievement in both storytelling and computer animation finesse, “Shrek 2” surprisingly rivals the entertainment value and fairytale fun of the original. A rare feat, this sparkling sequel has better characters, sharper graphics, and an even more amusing plot. Still packed with humor, romance, and a bit of preachy morals, this DreamWorks production takes a cue from Pixar by crafting a family film that can be enjoyed by adults just as much as by the kids.

In the middle of Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona’s (Cameron Diaz) honeymoon, they are invited to Fiona’s home in Far Far Away for a royal ball and marriage celebration. Due to his monstrous appearance, Shrek is reluctant to go, but Fiona convinces him that their visit won’t be disappointing. Their arrival, however, is indeed immediately met with shock and disgust by the humans of the castle, prompting the ogre couple to realize just how difficult it will be to fit in.

In his consternation, Shrek visits a mystifying, Machiavellian fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders) to acquire a potion that will enable him to live happily ever after. Unbeknownst to the ogre, the devious sorceress is cooking up a plan to force Fiona to wed her son, the cocky and obnoxious Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). As Fiona and Shrek are turned back into human form (and Donkey is turned into a gallant stallion) thanks to the magic potion, their friends old and new must band together to foil the wicked godmother’s bridegroom switcheroo. “What in Grimm’s name are you doing here!”

Chock-full of the most hilarious and diverse fairytale references, as well as famous movie moment spoofs, “Shrek 2” is a contemporary film fan’s delight. Making fun of “Spiderman,” “Alien,” Indiana Jones, “Beauty and the Beast,” “Mission: Impossible,” and countless other entities, it’s obvious the filmmakers sought to include a little bit of everything; though the nods to newer materials will certainly be fleeting, the humor of twisted Grimm concepts and offbeat character designs drive the film with greater conviction than in the previous outing. The Gingerbread Man (and his outrageous counterpart Mongo), Pinocchio (in a thong!), and the Three Blind Mice all receive longer sequences, which never tire midway. Subtle anachronistic ironies also curiously exist in the “Shrek” universe, highlighting the anarchic creativity of the filmmakers – such as the mocking of technology in a “Cops” spoof (featuring Donkey and Shrek being attacked by medieval pepper spray, which is little more than pepper grinders) and the contrary following moment when a squadron of the king’s troops step out of an armored carriage with machine guns.

In addition, “Shrek 2” introduces one of the most lovable and laughable characters in animation history: Puss in Boots. Uproariously voiced by Antonio Banderas, Puss steals every scene he’s in, blessed with the largest amount of purely comedic interjections. His design is phenomenal and his scenes so memorable that he would, quite understandably, go on to star in his own spin-off feature.

Outside of the laughs, family-friendly themes seep into the script, including acceptance of oneself and the adages of “beauty is only skin deep” and “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Though a touch didactic at times, it nevertheless fuels the actions of the characters and generates a noble serving of emotional poignancy. With its enormously entertaining characters, grandiose song and dance sequences, and rousing finale of swashbuckling excess, “Shrek 2” is a riotously funny storybook epic, unexpectedly surpassing its predecessor in practically every way.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10