May 23rd, 2010

Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Flashback 2001 ~ Shrek: deep meaning, thought provoking...and Oh so

Classic folktales 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 multilayered
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 fairytales.
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 Farely. 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
the show.

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 rauckus grand finale will make one a believer in
"Shrek.".
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Flashback 2004 ~ Summer deja vu all over again **Shrek II**

**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 ogre.
 
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.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

Flashback 2007 ~ "Shrek the Third" has reached the point of diminishing returns

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.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

"Shrek Forever After" IS the Grand Finale!

Shrek Forever After
After attending the Barry Grunow Memorial service at Lake Worth Middle School nine years ago, I met **Shrek.** the film made me feel better about life. Most ticket buyers felt the same way, **Shrek** had become an iconic character, though his films had reached the law of diminishing returns.

Dreamworks has touted **Shrek Forever After** as the last **Shrek** movie. (Don’t fear kiddies, a **Puss in Boots** spin off is in the (Dream)works). While not up to the spontaneous joy of the original, this new **Shrek** is the second best film in the franchise. Given the 3-D effects on the IMAX six storey screen, **Shrek Forever After** closes the door on a positive note.

Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is suffering from a mid life crisis. While he has achieved domestic tranquility, Shrek has become a public figure and is a shadow of his former ogre. Enter Rumplestilskin (Walt Dohrn), a nasty little man who offers Shrek a temporary escapes from a conventional life.

As we learn in the prologue, Rumplestilskin has a grievance with Shrek. By providing Fiona (Cameron Diaz) her first kiss in the first movie, Shrek prevented Rumplestilskin from the seize the kingdom of Far Far Away from the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julia Andrews). With Shrek’s ignorant cooperation, Rumplestilskin enacts his revenge and destroys fairy tale world.

Whereas **Shrek the Third** seemed to fear walking on the wild side, this new **Shrek** embraces the darkness of the original. Rumplestilskin dominates **Shrek Forever After,** which is the darkest of the four **Shrek*** movies. He is a funny villain in the same mode of Dr. Evil and Big Boy Caprice, who devils our heroes at every turn.

Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy (as Donkey) and Cameron Diaz end their partnership on a high note, their voices are transcendental. There is a spontaneous feeling in this motion picture that has been missing from Dreamworks animation.

While **How to Train Your Dragon* has more heart, **Shrek Forever After** rousing finale benefits from the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery IMAX screen. Expect to dodge 3-D pumpkin bombs and ducking under the hoofs of runaway horses. Stick around during the closing credits and enjoy one last tango with **Shrek** and his friends.
Cinema Dave  Swashbuckling ournalist and

First "Shrek 2" was in 3 D and is now known as "Shrek 4 D" at Universal Orlando

Released in 2003, this "Shrek" short subject featured the ghost of Lord Farquad (John Lithgow) and his revenge upon Shrek and Fiona. Essentially an excuse to create a safe ride at Universal studios, this "Shrek" film reunites the original characters while making references to characters found at Universal Studios. The most obvious reference, is Donkey's paraphrase of Elwood Blues from the Blues Brothers movie. Frequently when people exit the theatre, they can see Jake & Elwood performing on the street.

This DVD was sold in conjunction with the original "Shrek," to promote "Shrek II." Confused? Don't be, just sit back and enjoy the ride.