OK, here's my review of Shrek 2: Go see it now.
Why are you still sitting there? Oh, you want more information on why it's
so good. Well, I can understand that -- but there are some movies that you really
don't want all the good bits spoiled for, and this is one of them, all right?
OK, fine, I'll give you a bit more information. I like
the first Shrek pretty well, but I thought that in some places it was a
bit crude and that it was a bit short. I really liked how it sent up the usual
Fairy Tale conventions, the spoofs, the massive slaps at the House of Mouse,
and the performances. I also liked the economy of the story, in that while it
was short; you didn't feel short-changed on the story front. Everything that
was necessary was there, and told well. The characters were also fleshed out
nicely and the "love can be found in unexpected places" theme also
appealed to me. (Now only if I could find my Fiona....)
But you know how Toy Story 2 took the bits from the first movie, then
expanded and improved on them? It was a marvel how how much better it was than
the first Toy Story. Shrek 2 manages the same feat by a factor
Shrek 2 is bigger, better, funnier, deeper and just all around better
than the first one in every way imaginable. Better characterization, better
music, better animation (which is a given, since each CG movie has better tech
than the last), and best of all, better plot.
The main three characters, Shrek (Mike Myers), Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz),
and Donkey (Eddie Murphy) return, but the Dragon doesn't. She's feeling moody,
so Donkey's come to visit his pals until she's feeling better. (That, and with
a dragon on your side not much is a real threat to you, so they had to write
her out of the plot somehow.) This is all explained in the first five minutes,
and then the story kicks off.
Princess Fiona's parents, having received word that their daughter has been
rescued and her curse lifted, have sent for her and her Prince to come to Far
Far Away for their blessing and a celebration ball. Of course, they have no
idea that instead of Prince Charming, Fiona has fallen for Onion-boy.
Once they arrive in Far Far Away, we meet the King (John Cleese) and Queen
(Julie Andrews) and they are quite shocked to see that their daughter is now
big, green and with an ogre. Now, from here the writers could have gone for
the standard "parents don't understand at first but through time come to
see the good in Shrek" plot, but they don't! Well, I mean that they do,
but that's just the start of the main story.
From here a whole mess of plot twists come in, and just about every Fairy Tale
character that wasn't in the first movie makes an appearance. We get the Fairy
Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), Prince Charming himself (Rupert Everett), Puss
in Boots (Antonio "I'm so sexy" Bandaras) and a whole host of others
in cameos. My two favorites are the Ugly Stepsister (Larry King), and Captain
Hook (a piano man in a seedy dive called The Poison Apple, voiced by Tom Waits
and Nick Cave).
There are gags and spoofs just crammed in everywhere, especially once our gang
gets to Far Far Away, which is a riff on Beverly Hills and Hollywood. I have
to see the film again because I'm sure that I missed two gags for every one
that I caught.
But like the first Shrek, this one has heart and a story behind the
humor, and it's a pretty damn good one. While I think the first Shrek
is all about expectations, and how love is not always where you expect it to
be, Shrek 2 is about what happens after that. What are you willing to
do for the person you love? Are you willing to change for the person you love?
Do you want her (or him) to change? Or are you happy with her as she is? If
she does change, will she still be the person you fell in love with?
Now, as for the plot, I really, really, really don't want to spoil it for you.
It's a fantastic plot, and the writers deserve every penny they got, and lots
And that's it. I will tell no more, you just have to see it. It's gold.
I will tell you some of the other good bits that I feel are safe to discuss.
As I noted before, it's a given that the animation is better. It's jaw-droppingly
good in places. There's a bit where Prince Charming tosses his hair, and it's
In the performances category, Antonio Banderas as Puss In Boots is stellar.
He is funny and it's a great send-up of his persona. The back and forth between
him and Donkey is also very funny. Speaking of Donkey, this character continues
to be Eddie Murphy's best work in years. Someone please stop him before he makes
another family-friendly live action film. Wasn't Daddy Day Care enough?
Diaz and Myers also manage to bring great life to their roles, making Shrek
and Fiona real. The casting of Cleese and Andrews was a stroke of brilliance.
It really stands out in the scene when the four see each other for the first
time and are walking down the red carpet towards each other. The intercuts of
the dialog is genius, and pulled off masterfully.
The first Shrek managed to get great use out of songs as a kind of shorthand
to really add some depth. They always fit and commented on what was going on
in the story, adding more emotion to the scene. Shrek 2 manages the same
feat, but with what I think are a better selection of songs.
What, you're still sitting here? Get up and go to the theater. Go on! Get!