Shrek 2 Review
Shrek 2 begins where the first Shrek left off. Prince Charming finally arrives to save Princess Fiona from the dragon, only to discover she has already been saved by the giant green ogre and after a fairy-tale marriage they are away on their honeymoon. But the honeymoon is over all too quickly for Shrek and his new bride as they return to the swamp to find Donkey (who's having relationship problems with his fire-breathing girlfriend) has taken up residence in their home. If that's not bad enough, they receive a royal summons from the Princess's parents who want to welcome the new groom into the family and give the happy couple their marital blessing with a celebratory ball.
After some discussion and over Shrek's objections, the newlyweds and Donkey embark on a long journey to the royal castle in the land of Far Far Away. Once the trio arrives at the Kingdom, the King and Queen are shocked to discover their once-beautiful Princess has not only married an ogre (they were expecting the vainglorious Prince Charming), but has become one herself. The King and Shrek take an immediate dislike to one another and with the help of Prince Charming's scheming mother (the Fairy Godmother), King Harold plots to remove him from his daughter's life. A swashbuckling feline assassin (Puss-in-Boots) is hired to kill Shrek, but when the assassination attempt fails, he becomes an unlikely new companion to Shrek and Donkey and the three of them set out to discover the reason behind the hit on Shrek's life.
DreamWorks Studios proves once again it has the Midas touch with the eagerly-anticipated Shrek 2. Reuniting the voice talents of Myers, Diaz and Murphy from the first film, the directing team of Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon have created a wickedly funny sequel with great new characters and a lot of heart. Brilliant sight gags and nods to pop culture abound and everything from Mission Impossible to Flashdance are parodied. The honeymoon montage spoofs Lord of the Rings, From Here to Eternity, and Spider-Man and one of the funniest scenes in the film is a parody called Knights which pokes fun at the reality police show Cops. Even Joan Rivers gets into the act when she critiques the fashion on display in a red carpet segment at the matrimonial ball. The Kingdom of Far Far Away is a medieval send-up of Beverly Hills, complete with palm trees and Farbucks coffee shoppes and skewers American consumerism - loyal subjects can fulfill all their shopping needs at places called Saxxon Fifth Avenue, Pewtery Barn, Versarchery and Old Knavery and you can buy a pint at the Poison Apple Inn where one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters tends bar and Captain Hook sings Tom Waits songs. The look of the film is amazing as the computer-generated technology has improved greatly since the original Shrek was released - the facial expressions and shoulder movements are more life-like and fluid and the colour-palette is just dazzling. The soundtrack is an eclectic mix that runs the gamut from Tom Waits and Nick Cave to Counting Crowes and Ricky Martin song parodies.
Mike Myers (Shrek), Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona) and Eddie Murphy (Donkey) all reprise their voice roles from the first film, along with new characters Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas), Princess Fiona's parents the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of the Kingdom of Far Far Away, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and his mother the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and a bit of inspired casting with Larry King giving a transgendered voice performance as one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters. The affectionate bickering between Shrek and Donkey picks up right where it left off in the first film and the wisecracking Donkey is as annoyingly verbose as ever. Jennifer Saunders' (Absolutely Fabulous) Fairy Godmother adds a bit of sauciness as the doting mother from Hell who will stop at nothing to put her son Prince Charming back into the arms of the Princess and in line for the throne, but it's Banderas' tabby in thigh-high boots who steals the show. The suave, Spanish-accented feline has some of the film's best lines and his sad kitty facial expressions will melt your heart.
After the enormous success of the original Shrek (which won the first Oscar ever for a full-length animated feature, grossed over 481 million dollars worldwide and set the bar on computer-generated films), the filmmakers knew they had their work cut out for them. By re-assembling the outstanding voice cast from the original, adding some brilliant new characters to the mix and bombarding scene-after-scene with hilarious sight gags and pop culture nods, Shrek 2 is equal to, if not better than the original. What it lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in humour and you'll be hard-pressed to find a better family film. In a Summer of hit-and-miss Blockbusters, Shrek and company reign supreme.