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SHREK 2 (PG) (2004)


Official Site

Director: Andrew Adamson; Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon

Producers: Aron Warner, Daivd Lipman, John H. Williams

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, Jennifer Saunders




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 God.

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 younger audience.

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.

—Roxanne Bogucka


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

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Itís worth a matinee ticket.

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