Classic folk tales have been analyzed by academic
scholars since the Brothers Grimm began writing them
down. These nursery rhymes and tales have had a darker
edge that have been sanitized by modern sensibilities.
In one version of "Cinderella," a wicked step sister
cut off her toes to get her foot to fit the glass
slipper. Dreamwork's "Shrek" is a multi layered
animated movie that utilizes some of these darker
themes with a comic punch.
Mean Prince Farquaard (Voice of John Lithgow) wants
his kingdom to be as boring as he is. So the evil
royal one banishes all the classic fairytale
characters into an ogre's swamp. Before saying "there
goes the neighborhood'" Shrek the Ogre (Mike Myers)
becomes upset and confronts the Prince.
The Prince cuts a deal with the ogre; if Shrek can
rescue a princess, the prince will solve his
immigration problem. So Shrek the unlikely hero, goes
off on a Herculean quest with his sidekick Donkey
(Eddie Murphy.) Along the way Shrek and his faithful
companion battle a dragon with pretty eyes and rescue
a Princess in distress (Cameron Diaz.)
Things are not what they appear in William Steig's
novel of the same name. The comedic highlights are
formed by one's memories of the classic fairytale.
The team of 6 screenwriters garner big laughs when
mixing the mythological extreme with everyday
behavior. There are also many echoes from pop culture
and modern cinema. A wedding reception takes on a
Jerry Springer air when Cinderella & Snow White duke
it out for the wedding bouquet. One visual owes a
dept to Dreamwork's own "Gladiator" and one aural
highlight allows The Ginger Bread Man to sound like
Mr. Bill from "Saturday Night Live."
The Saturday Night Live alumnus play a significant
role in the creative process of "Shrek." Shrek was
originally designed for the late Chris Farley. Along
with John Lithgow, Mike Meyers undertakes the vocal
challenge with their usual consistency. However it's
Eddie Murphy's vocal performance as Donkey that steals
There are enough visual action to hold the interest of
children and there is enough depth and double
entendres to entertain the most ogre adult audience.
The ruckus grand finale will make one a believer in
"Shrek II" and "The Day After Tomorrow" have
opened the Summer 2004 movie season like a stampede.
Like a good horse race, these cinematic contenders
came bolting out of the box office paddock. "The Day
After Tomorrow," like Smarty Jones, seems to be
fading in the final furlough. On the other hoof,
"Shrek II" is poised to topple "The Passion of the
Christ" as the box office champion for 2004.
After celebrating their honeymoon, Shrek the green
ogre(voiced by Michael Myers) and his new bride,
Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), return to the swamp to
set up house. Their domestic bliss is interrupted with
visits from the motor mouth Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and
mail from Fiona’s Royal Family. Shrek and Fiona are
to meet the Queen (Julie Andrews) and King (John
Cleese), who are unaware that Fiona has married an
The meeting of the in-laws goes horribly wrong. The
King pays a feline mercenary, Puss 'n Boots (Antonio
Banderas) to hunt Shrek. Instead Shrek and the cat
become friends, much to Donkey's jealousy. The King
then recruits the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders )
who desires Princess Fiona for her son, Prince
Charming (Rupert Everett). Selfish complications
arise, but love, slapstick violence and popular
culture conquer all.
When a movie has been critically praised and has
grossed over 320 million dollars in box office
revenue, it is hard to find fault with it. "Shrek II"
is an enjoyable 93 minutes with music, belly
laughs and fairy tale romance. This film demands
repeated viewings because of all the little details
that get missed from the various distractions. Yet,
didn't we see that same movie three years ago? Though
enjoyable, "Shrek II" is deja vu all over again.
This cinematic month of May has featured three box office winning trilogies that have lived beyond financial expectations. "Spider-Man 3" may exceed 300 million dollars this Memorial Day weekend. With the McDonald corporation’s cross promotion, "Shrek the Third" has earned 122 million dollars in less than seventy two hours this recent weekend. Despite the 122 million dollar opening weekend, "Shrek the Third" has reached the point of diminishing returns
"Shrek the Third" opens on a sinister musical note. Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett) is grieving the loss of his mother and his poor circumstances. The Prince felt that he was heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Far Far Away. Instead Shrek (Mike Meyers) and his pals disrupted the coronation and now Charming is living grumpily ever after.
Not much has changed for Shrek and his wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) since we last saw them. While the Frog King (John Cleese) is ill, Shrek and Fiona have been named temporary rulers of the kingdom of Far, Far Away. Since they are both ogres and lack public administration certification, Shrek seeks another heir to the throne. The green guy recruits his sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss ‘n Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find pauper Artie (Justin Timberlake), who does not know he is a prince. With Shrek away, the distraught Prince Charming seizes this opportunity and overthrows the temporary government.
If this plot sounds boring, then even the animated characters seem bored by the narrative. Not since "102 Dalmatians" have I witnessed the boredom of children at an opening kiddie matinee. Usually a film like **Shrek the Third** features a fast pace narrative that one misses the details of the background shots that feature clever gags. The storyline for "Shrek the Third" is so drawn out that one starts to count the mise en scene in this movie. One misses the spontaneous feeling of the first "Shrek" a mere six years ago.
Even the animated characters seemed bored by the movie. Shrek, Donkey, Puss ‘n Boots and Fiona feel weighted down by their domestic responsibilities. One feels more empathy for the villains who have been defeated by their inability to live happily ever after. When the villains take over the kingdom, one would rather party with Captain Hook and the Headless Horseman. Shrek is no longer rough around the edges like he used to be, he is now a Hollywood mogul who plays it safe.
"Shrek the Third" is the first "Shrek" movie since the DreamWorks/Paramount and the franchise does feel sanitized. There were double entendre moments in the first movie that worked on both a child and an adult level. I have often wondered what a child of 2001 would think of their parents when reviewing the original "Shrek" in 2011. What was once outrageous is now timid.
There will be sequels to "Shrek" and "Puss ‘n Boots" is being courted for a spin-off. Yet one feels weary of marketing that is not living up to its hype or history.