Shrek 2 Review
By Shawn McKenzie 05/20/2004
The first Shrek movie was hilarious, but it was essentially Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg’s jab at his former employee, Disney. It went on to take one more stab at the Mouse House by beating their flick Monsters, Inc. for the first ever Best Animated Feature award to be given out at the Oscars. Now, they brought back much of the same talented team to bring us Shrek 2, and like the Toy Story movies, the sequel is almost better than the original.
Starting right where the first film left off, our ogre hero Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) is mostly enjoying being married to his now ogre-fied wife Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz), but he is not getting a chance to enjoy his honeymoon. His pal, Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy), is always bothering them because his relationship with the Dragon from the first movie has hit the skids. Now, something else unpleasant (at least to Shrek) has happened: an invitation has arrived by Fiona’s parents, Queen Lillian (voice of Julie Andrews) and King Harold (voice of John Cleese), to come to their castle in Far, Far Away Land so that they can celebrate the couple’s nuptials, and so they can finally meet their new son-in-law. Unfortunately, Fiona has kept many things from her parents, like the fact that she didn’t marry the man that they intended for her, Prince Charming (voice of Rupert Everett), and that she was now an ogre herself. Shrek doesn’t want to go, but Fiona talks him into it, and they head to the kingdom, bringing the lonely Donkey with them. Once they get there, Shrek is not shocked at all at her parents’ response, though Fiona is, and she is disappointed that her father doesn’t support it (her mother is more understandable.) Another person who is shocked is Fiona’s Fairy Godmother (voice of Jennifer Saunders), who had a secret pact with Harold for Fiona to marry her son, Prince Charming. Charming was supposed to rescue Fiona from the Dragon and marry her, but when he got to the dragon’s lair, all he found was the Big Bid Wolf (voice of Aron Warner) in Fiona’s bed. Harold tries to correct the situation by going to a bad guy pub in the village called The Poison Apple, run by the Ugly Stepsister (voice of Larry King), and hiring an assassin named Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas.) Puss is a skilled swordsman and sports some razor-sharp claws, but his real weapon is his “cute kitty” look. Even with all that going for him, he fails to take out Shrek, and even becomes friends with him. The assassination attempt, combined with a brief peek at Fiona’s childhood diary, makes Shrek think that Fiona and her parents would be happier if he looked a little better. He decides to break into the Fairy Godmother’s magic factory and ingest a magic potion that will make him and Fiona look attractive (it also turns Donkey into a beautiful white stallion.) Fiona is under another spell though, where she’ll fall in love with the first person she kisses, cast upon her by her Fairy Godmother, with her intention being that Fiona will kiss her son. Once Shrek realizes what the Fairy Godmother is up to, he works with Donkey, Puss, Pinocchio (voice of Cody Cameron), the Three Pigs (also the voice of Cody Cameron), the Gingerbread Man (voice of Conrad Vernon), and one of the Blind Mice (voice of Christopher Knights) to stop her from succeeding with her plan.
The first movie was all about skewering Disney and fairytales in general, but this one is more about making fun of pop culture, including many movie spoofs. In the opening montage alone, it parodies From Here to Eternity, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Spider-Man. Later on in the movie, it makes slight references to other movies, like The Mask of Zorro, where Banderas first achieved superstardom, and Blazing Saddles, with a super-sized version of the Gingerbread Man that they name Mongo (and is also voiced by Vernon.) Aside from movies, they also make fun of Starbucks (with a coffee shop called “Farbucks”) and E!’s coverage of live events (complete with a cameo voice appearance by Red Carpet veteran Joan Rivers), among other things.
Most of the original voice cast is back for this one (except for John Lithgow, whose character, Lord Farquaad, was swallowed by the Dragon), and the new additions are great. I have to say that Banderas stole the show though, and it makes me look forward to Zorro 2, which is projected to be released sometime next year.
Even though the animation in the first movie was amazing, I think that it is even better here. I realize that it is mainly a result of the advancements of animation in the three-year gap between the two films, but the attention to detail is incredible.
So…is Shrek 2 just as good as the original? Will it be the next enjoyable DVD that you won’t mind your kids watching over and over ad nausea once it comes out? Yes and yes! Like the first movie, this one you can easily enjoy with or without your kids. Unless Disney’s The Incredibles (scheduled for release in November) is absolutely mind-blowing, Dreamworks may be looking at another Oscar win.
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