Production Company: Dreamworks
Director: Andrew Adamson
Principles: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas
By Gregg Tubbs
(UMCom) -- Most Hollywood sequels are like leftover meatloaf. You enjoyed it the first time, and the ingredients haven’t changed, but somehow it just doesn’t taste fresh. But the creative folks at Dreamworks have cooked up something rare in Shrek 2, a sequel that’s as fresh, imaginative and funny as the award-winning original. The first Shrek made movie history as the first film to win the Academy Award in the new best animated film category, and it’s a good bet Shrek 2 has a shot at nabbing the award again - a feat not done since the first and second Godfather films took best picture awards in the 1970s. Shrek 2 is that good.
Shrek 2 picks up where the first film left off, with newlywed ogres Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) on their honeymoon. The gently irreverent humor starts right off as their honeymoon is shown in a series of vignettes spoofing other popular films, including The Lord of the Rings in a clever wedding ring scene. From here you’ve got to keep your eyes open, because the film is full of subtle visual gags and background shtick that will keep things amusing even on repeated viewings.
|Shrek (Mike Myers) carries his new bride, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), over the threshold of the Gingerbread Honeymoon Suite. Copyright © 2004 Dreamworks |
Upon returning to Shrek’s hut in the swamp, they are summoned to the kingdom of "far, far away" by Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen, who wish to celebrate the new marriage. There’s only one problem - they don’t know their lovely daughter Fiona has transformed into an ogre or that instead of Prince Charming, who she was supposed to wed, she is now married to a hulking green ogre. Shrek is apprehensive, but with some urging from Fiona and the ever-present, and ever-hilarious Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) they leave the swamp and journey to the kingdom.
What follows is a delightful, if not entirely original, series of adventures and mishaps, as Shrek and company meet Fiona’s parents, thwart the ambitious Prince Charming, foil a devious Fairy Godmother, guzzle magic potions and gain a new traveling companion, Puss in Boots. Puss, voiced with mellifluous charm by Antonio Banderas, is a feline Zorro and the perfect comic foil to the hyperactive, jealous Donkey. As Fiona and Shrek play it straight as star-crossed lovers, Puss and Donkey supply an ongoing stream of comic relief.
|Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) nervously introduces her new husband Shrek (Mike Myers) to her parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), the rulers of Far Far Away. Copyright © 2004 Dreamworks Pictures|
As with all good fairy tales, there is a moral to this one. Shrek 2 has several. First, is that love - true love - is never selfish and sometimes must be selfless. Shrek and Fiona know this and show it throughout, as they continually sacrifice for each other. But it’s a long, hard lesson for the King and Queen to learn that really loving their daughter means accepting what’s really best for her and not necessarily what they wanted or what the public expected from the new royal couple. In the end, the King makes a surprising personal sacrifice that not only explains his debt to the wicked Fairy Godmother but also truly demonstrates his love for Fiona.
The film also continues the theme of the first Shrek, that beauty is what’s inside a person, and their heart, soul and actions to others determine their true nature. The handsome Prince Charming, as it turns out, is anything but. He is a self-centered social climber who sees Fiona as nothing more than a path to the throne. In contrast, the homely, ill-mannered ogre Shrek is deep down a kindly loving soul whose bark is worse than his bite, and his devotion to Fiona is absolute. While not heavy handed, there are even jabs at the idea of racism in the appalled attitudes of the King and Queen. They judge Shrek according to how he was born - an ogre - and not the person he has become through Fiona’s love. They are aghast that their grandchildren, and heirs to the throne, would be ogres as well.
|Donkey (Eddie Murphy) informs Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) that the position of annoying talking animal has already been taken. Copyright © 2004 Dreamworks Pictures|
Finally, there is forgiveness and acceptance - Fiona forgiving her parents, her parents accepting her choice, the Queen forgiving the King for his past wrongs and Shrek forgiving Fiona for her attention to Prince Charming. On a lighter note, there’s also Donkey accepting that he’ll probably never get rid of this sword-wielding Spanish cat, just as Shrek will have to put up with them both. This is a very good thing, because I, for one, can’t wait for them all to return in the inevitable Shrek 3!
Gregg Tubbs is a freelance writer living in Columbia, Md.