Published on May 24th, 2004 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Shrek 2
Digital animation is the new wave, as if you needed anyone to tell you that. Aside from the classic works by Pixar Animation Studios, DreamWorks PDI has also delivered a film that is sure to trump Disney’s Finding Nemo as the highest grossing animated picture of all time. That film would be the sequel to the surprising grown-up 2001 hit, Shrek. I, honestly, didn’t know what to expect from Shrek when the film was first released in theaters, in fact, I never actually saw the film until it was released on DVD, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. While there are some who eat, drink, and live by the code of Disney, and want nothing to do with animation that doesn’t come form the Mouse House, those diehards will be missing out on one of the funniest, most appropriately adult and child oriented film to come out since the original Shrek.
Shrek 2 picks up right after the original film and begins with a montage of Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) enjoying their honeymoon. The happy couple return home to the swamp to find to unexpected guests. The first is Donkey (Eddie Murphy), who is having problems with Dragon, and the second is a band of messengers from the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of Far Far Away summoning their daughter and her new husband to meet them. Of course, the King doesn’t know that the spell placed upon Fiona reverted her to an Ogre-like state, and the certainly don’t know that she has married Shrek.
As can be expected, the King and Queen are less than thrilled about their daughter’s chosen path, especially when the King has a pact with the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) to give Fiona away in marriage to Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). Hilarity ensues as the King tries to do away with Shrek by way of a hired assassin. Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is his name, and being one of the best animated characters of all time is his game. Truth be told, Puss in Boots really makes this movie. Every seen the character is in is truly funny, and every action, from licking himself to swearing in Spanish, really shows that DreamWorks really knows what they are doing.
Shrek 2, itself, is a jab at the over-stylized and over-realized culture that is Hollywood. Upon arriving in Far Far Away our merry band soon discovers that this is a very different place than what they are used to. The city itself resembles Beverly Hills in most aspects including huge mansions for stars, in this case fairy tale stars like Cinderella, and trendy stores all over the place. If you pay attention you will pick up shout-outs to retailers like GAP, Burger King, and a very abusive stab at Starbucks which may be one of the funniest jokes in the entire film.
The Shrek series of films has always been known for its pop-culture references, some blatantly obvious, some not so much. There were times when the entire theater would laugh at a reference, like Fiona kissing Shrek upside-down a la Spider-Man, but there were other times when I felt like I was the only one laughing. In the first five minutes you are treated to a visual onslaught of such references, each one as equally funny as the last. The funniest, bar-none, is a spoof of the popular TV show COPS called KNIGHTS which may require repeat viewings of the film just to get all the jokes.
Like most comedies the film throws tons of stuff your way in the beginning and then tapers off the funny stuff to make way for more dramatic story elements. Still, even with cutting back on the jokes mid-way through, the film is still funnier than most of the schlock released so far this year. As many other critics have stated, this movie will require repeat viewings just to get all of the jokes.
The only unfortunate downside to Shrek 2 is the fact that the movie ends and it will be a good two to three years until we get another dose of the big, green ogre. Hopefully DreamWorks is able to capitalize on the popularity of their 7-77 age comedy and make the upcoming Shark Tale a success. Until then, be sure to check out Shrek 2 (multiple times if needed), because it is sure to be one of the biggest movies of the summer, and very well may be one of the best of the year.