Director: Andrew Adamson; Kelly Asbury,
Producers: Aron Warner, Daivd Lipman, John
Written by: Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman
and J. David Stern & David N. Weiss
Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron
Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Rupert Everett,
Yes, it’s four-stars good, even though I worry
about contributing to the ongoing crisis of corporatization and commercialism
by recommending it. Talk about your product placement! Farbucks, Burger
Prince, Tower of London Records, etc., all with punny names but with
their logos intact, which means corporate approval for inclusion in
the film, I’m thinking. Studies have shown that children as young
as two recognize brand names and product logos, so I’m disappointed
in Dreamworks’ pimp-out in a movie intended for a young audience.
As Morgan Spurlock recently demonstrated in his documentary,
Super Size Me!, kids may more readily and correctly identify
an image of Mickey D’s spokes-clown than an image of the son of
It’s been three years since
the marvelous Shrek, but Shrek 2
takes up as the titular green ogre (Myers)
and his ladylove, Princess Fiona (Diaz),
return from their honeymoon, which they actually
managed to take without Donkey (Murphy).
The newlyweds receive the news of an invitation
from Fiona’s parents (to a ball, of course;
what, did you think royals have barbecues?) with
differing amounts of joy, leading to the first
marital tiff and the reluctant Shrek’s first
visit to his wife’s hometown of Far, Far
Away. Naturally, Donkey refuses to be left behind.
Yet left behind he is, as there’s much less
for Donkey to do in this movie. Indeed, his on-screen
jealousy—Donkey asserts that “I’m
the cute talking animal here”—is well-founded.
As Puss In Boots, Antonio “too sexy,
too sexy” Banderas walks off with
the picture. Can one make a star-turn as voice
talent? Yes indeed. Consider Banderas’ cartoon
career made. But I digress.
Though shocked to meet their
new son-in-law, Fiona’s mum (Andrews)
quickly recovers and works to make him feel at
home. The king (Cleese) on the other hand,
decides to put a contract on Shrek, hoping to
free Fiona to marry his choice, Prince Charming
(Everett). It’s not all cussedness
on the king’s part, for Charming’s
mum, the Fairy Godmother (Saunders), compels
the king by her knowledge of A Long Hidden Secret.
The in-law trouble storyline
is pretty hoary, and does not yield any surprises
in this animated incarnation. I don’t think
I’m giving anything away when I tell you
there are adventures and laughter and tears before
the happy ending. The ride is a little bumpier
than in the original movie, though. Shrek 2
has, simultaneously, too much plot involving emoting
and a story that barely mortars around its bricks—the
nonstop parodies. The filmmakers were able to
escape from this trap and hold down the pop-culture
references in the first movie because they had
to introduce us to the Shrekian universe. This
time out, they made what I think of as The “Pinky
And The Brain” Mistake: opting for too much
of the sort of snarkiness and cleverness that
amuses the accompanying adults but betrays the
Still, it’s a good-natured,
good-hearted movie, with beautiful animation (Prince
Charming’s hair is a valentine of a Pantene
commercial) and a lot of good music—Tom
Waits, eels, David Bowie. The kids will laugh
and unless you’re a real ogre (or Donald
Rumsfeld) so will you.
Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.
Itís worth a full-price ticket.
Itís 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...