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Shrek (PG)
Dreamworks SKG
Official Site
Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg, Aron Warner, John H. Williams
Written by: Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S.H. Schulman; from the book by William Steig
Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow

Rating: out of 5

Long ago, in a land far away, I used to be an animation purist. My resolve to hate computer animation and Pixar was slightly broken down by Toy Story and Dinosaur, but I still preferred classic hand-drawn characters and backgrounds in my animated films. So I expected not to like Shrek simply based on the animation techniques. By the end of the film, I had so completely fallen for the original story and lovable characters that the computer animation was but an afterthought.

Shrek tells the story of an ogre named Shrek (Myers), whose peaceful swamp is disturbed by an influx of fairy tale creatures, ranging from Pinocchio to the three blind mice. As it turns out, the devious, power-hungry, and diminutive Lord Farquaad (Lithgow) uproots this large group of mystical creatures from their homes to perfect his kingdom and ends up with a very angry ogre on his hands. You see, ogres do not like people or fairy creatures. They are mean, crude, and just plain disgusting. So when Shrek’s peace is disturbed, he decides to take his complaint to Lord Farquaad and ends up being sent on a quest to find the perfect bride for Farquaad, Princess Fiona (Diaz). Along the way, Shrek attains a slightly annoying shadow named Donkey (Murphy), who if not the most necessary plot device, certainly makes the film worth watching more than once.

Eddie Murphy is basically the reason Shrek is as good as it is. While the entire movie is well written, Murphy’s lines are sidesplitting, though the target demographic will not understand many of them. Murphy is perfectly cast as the wise and wisecracking Donkey, as are Lithgow as Lord Farquaad, and Myers (in a return to his Fat Bastard accent from Austin Powers II) as Shrek. Diaz seems to have been cast simply because she is a hot property in Hollywood at the moment and not because her voice matched the animation.

SHREK is definitely not shy about borrowing from other movies. Blatant thievery (legal or not) from The Matrix, Beauty And The Beast, and others can be seen throughout the movie and while occasionally funny, led me to wonder about the creativity of the animators. Though several of the scenes are rip-offs, the storyline overall is original and well intentioned, with a classic cartoon moral that beauty comes from within the soul.

Now to the big question, the animation. Throughout the film, the characters look rather like animatronics on film—robotic and unnatural. I noticed this several times and would have been extremely bothered by it if the story hadn’t been so endearing and amusing. Until computer animation is improved by leaps and bounds, I will prefer hand-created drawings any day.

But I still loved Shrek. As a kid’s movie, Shrek is good. Not up to par with recent animated films like The Emperor's New Groove, but good enough that kids and their parents will enjoy it. Take a kid, eat some popcorn and try to ignore the animation—you’ll be glad you did.

Renae Bolen


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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