74 – Shrek

In the old days of animated movies, you always had a syrupy-sweet movie in which the hero overcomes big odds to win the heart of the fair maiden or some such nonsense. Nowadays, however, kids aren’t as gullible. So for the past few years, studios – including but not limited to Disney – have come out with some very cool movies that have appealed to both children and adults. Toy Story was a pioneer in this field, although it’s not the only one. Follow the evolution to Antz and A Bug’s Life, and finally you come to the present masterpiece, Shrek.

Shrek is a giant green ogre (voiced marvelously by Mike Myers) who lives alone in a swamp. Every now and again the people from a nearby village try to oust him (shades of Frankenstein!), but he scares ’em away right proper. But unbeknownst to Shrek, the evil Lord Farquad (don’t read it too quickly in front of kids!) has banished all “fairy tale creatures” from the forest and placed them on Shrek’s swamp. Imagine his surprise! (The creatures include knock-offs of Pinocchio, the three pigs, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and so on.) And to add insult to his further injury, a charmed, talking donkey named Donkey (voiced by the inestimable Eddie Murphy) wants to be Shrek’s pal.

To get the creatures off his land, Shrek goes to the source of the trouble – Farquad (John Lithgow). The evil one, after Shrek beats the beejezus out of all the lord’s knights, tells Shrek he will get rid of the fairy tale creatures if the ogre will go on a quest for him. The quest, it turns out, consists of Shrek journeying to a far-off castle and rescuing a fair princess (Cameron Diaz). Oh yes, and slaying a dragon, too, to get to her. Does this sound like the typical kids’ film so far? And of course, Donkey must turn around.

One of the best trends in recent yeards regarding these animated movies is that when producers get celebrities to voice characters, they give the celebrities free reign to improvise a little. Murphy is hilarious, audacious, and absolutely riotous as Donkey. He easily steals every scene he’s in, which is most of them. Murphy’s as funny here as Robin Williams was in the original Aladdin, a wild, untamed bundle of energy and raucous humor. He drops a couple of mild double-entendres and the requisite flautulence jokes and a whole bunch of pop culture references. Lithgow is wonderfully sneering as the short-statured lord, both despotic and self-serving, but one of those Snidely Whiplash-type characters who always seem to be muttering under their breath, “Curses! Foiled again!” Diaz has a lovely voice, tenuous when it should be, strong and mighty when it should be.

But it’s Myers as the humble and yet garrulous Shrek who’s running things here. He’s at times petulant, antisocial, and moody, but also courageous and very knightly indeed. There are some who have quibbled about Myers’ using a Scottish accent for Shrek, but according to reports the actor (who’s from Canada) was originally supposed to do a Canadian accent. Personally, I think the Scottish one’s a lot better.

This is great whiz-bang fun, and the in-jokes never let up. Watch it all the way through!

Shrek: 9

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2 Responses to “74 – Shrek”

  1. The Super Movie Says:

    New trailer of Shrek the third here at The super movie

  2. frothy Says:

    Thanks for the tip! I checked it out. I hope it’s as good as the others, but it looks almost like it’s trying too hard..

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