Ebert: Rolling Stone:1/2 TV Guide:1/2
minor plot points revealed!
It's not often that I go see kids movies at the theatre. If it's a really good one I will usually rent it on DVD when it comes out. I suppose this will all change in the next few years now that I am going to have a baby daughter, but for now, I see only a few "family" movies a year.
I didn't see the first Shrek at the theatre. I actually only saw it once and that was a pay-per-view at a hotel. I'll probably get the DVD one day.
I thought the first film was great and this one picks right up and continues the story. Ogres Shrek and Fiona, now married, have been summoned by Fiona's Royal parents to their kingdom - "Far, Far Away." It's a Hollywood-type fairy tale kingdom with stores like Old Knavery, Tower of London Records and a Farbucks on every corner. Horrified that their daughter has not only married an Ogre but also become one, King Harold conspires first with Puss-in-Boots to destroy Shrek and then with the Fairy Godmother to destroy the relationship and restore the pre-arranged marriage of Fiona and Prince Charming.
Shrek is digital animation by way of Dreamworks as opposed to the original digital film masters Pixar. Of the two, Pixar is by far the best. Their animation is much crisper and their writing is much better (see Finding Nemo). I also like the more cartoony look of the Pixar universe. The Shrek animation is great but it sometimes looks a little too real and too fake at the same time.
As I said with Nemo, the entire movie here is basically just a big special effect so hurray for that. I did, very much enjoy, last years hand drawn, Oscar nominated, French animation The Triplets of Belleville but I am now partial to the new computer animation. I also think that the multilevel, super-clever and witty writing for computer animation is now far superior to it's slower hand drawn predecessors. I loved the comedy in films like Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and Hercules but they cannot really compete joke-for-joke with today's films.
There are too many funny things in Shrek 2 to list all of the best moments. Suffice to say that any scene with Puss-in-Boots was a favorite. This was actually one of my favorite books when I was a little kid so it was fun to finally see the character on the big screen 30 years later. Also, the comic sidekick Donkey is as funny as ever. The rivalry that develops between Puss and Donkey is hilarious.
The voice actors all do great with their roles. Mike Myers continues his impression of his own Austin Powers character Fat Bastard to voice Shrek. Cameron Diaz is Fiona. Eddie Murphy as Donkey has now forever become a family comedy comic. It's not the career that I would have foretold back in his 80's heyday but he is good at it. John Cleese and Julie Andrews both have very distinctive voices that make them easily recognizable as Fiona's King and Queen parents. Rupert Everett is funny as the vain Prince Charming and Jennifer Saunders of TV's Absolutely Fabulous is absolutely fabulous as the Fairy Godmother. Lastly, Antonio Banderas voices Puss-in-Boots and sort of parodies his own Zorro character. I'm not a huge fan of Banderas but for some reason I seem to like all his movies. Especially the Robert Rodriguez ones like Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He basically steals the show here and has the best line of the film - "Fear me....If you Dare!"
We saw Shrek 2 on Memorial Day with a theatre full of screaming, giggling, chatty children. Normally this would bother me but again my impending parenthood kicked in and I thought it was neat and cute to see all kids having fun. I can't wait to take my daughter to her first movie. Her birth date is somewhere between July 30th and August 3rd so right now it looks like her first film will be Alien Vs. Predator on August 6th. She'll only be a few days old so I'll have to explain the detailed history of the Alien and Predator characters to her.
Anyway, go see Shrek if you get a chance. It's not one you have to see at the theatre but at the moment it's playing to packed houses and it's kind of fun to watch with a bunch of kids. Next week Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban will probably steal away most of the audience so if Harry's not your bag and you don't want kids ruining your Shreksperience then wait until next weekend to see it.