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Shrek 2 (2004) Print E-mail
Wednesday, 19 May 2004
As “Shrek” viewers recall, that film ended with the title green ogre hero (voiced by Mike Myers) marrying Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), a regular fairytale type who was under a curse that caused her to become an ogress every night when the sun went down. The twist in the story was that Fiona discovered that she was actually happier being in love with Shrek and being an ogress – for her, the end of the curse means she’s an ogress full-time instead of just at night. In “Shrek 2,” the happy couple enjoys a comically scenic honeymoon, then return home to the pestering of their loyal if annoying pal Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy). However, domestic bliss is short-lived – Fiona’s parents, the King (voiced by John Cleese) and Queen (voiced by Julie Andrews) of the kingdom of Far Far Away summon their daughter and her new bridegroom for a royal celebration of the marriage. The catch, as Shrek immediately realizes, is that Fiona’s parents know only that their daughter has been rescued and is wedded – the king and queen haven’t got a clue that their son-in-law is an ogre, much less that their daughter is now permanently round and green. Fiona insists that her folks won’t care.

In fact, the Queen does try to make the best of it, but Shrek and the King are testy from their first meeting onwards; the King even employs the noted ogre slayer Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas with total panache) to do something about Fiona’s spouse. It doesn’t help that Fiona’s Fairy Godmother (voiced by Jennifer Saunders) has a vested interest in making sure that the princess somehow winds up with her original intended, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), or that the F.G. is biased against ogres, which admittedly tend not to show up in traditional “happily ever after” endings.

Of course, much of the charm of the “Shrek” films is the way they turn tradition on its head (while still providing lots of traditional satisfactions like humor, wit and likeability along the way). Unless you are a very young viewer, it’s hard to doubt that our idea of a happy ending will occur, but the script by Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman and J. David Stern & David N. Weiss, based on Adamson’s story (which is in turn based on the children’s books by the late William Steig) has plenty of innovative twists and turns to keep us guessing as to how the characters can possibly achieve it. Directors Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon insure that the CGI is as before incredibly dimensional – everyone and everything we see seems to have depth and weight and lifelike detail. A prancing stallion and a very cute cat take top honors here, but the human characters, which often suffer in CGI situations (remember how beautiful everything was in “Finding Nemo” – except the humans?), also come off more persuasively than a lot of flesh-and-blood actors.

The sound mix on “Shrek 2” is excellent and will no doubt be a treat on home systems. Just as its predecessor did, “Shrek 2” incorporates pop tunes at unexpected moments. A highlight is a duet by Banderas (who really can sing, as proven in the mariachi movies) and Murphy (who doesn’t totally destroy the song) on “Living La Vida Loca” – part of the joke is the way the surround lets us feel we’re part of the crowd.

“Shrek 2” is smart, funny and appealing. To mix fantasy figures, it’s hard to imagine anybody but the Grinch not having a good time here.

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