A Film Review By The Mike
|Rating:RATED PG for lotsa Ogre Kissing….EWWWWWW!!!!
Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas
Directed By: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Three years ago, in movie theaters not so far away, a film called Shrek swept in like a knight in shining armor and saved the animated film genre from what looked like certain doom. Many of Hollywood’s finest stars were on board for what turned out to be most marvelous results. To make a tall story short, they all made enough money and won enough awards to live happily ever after, even if they were far inferior to the same year’s Monster’s, Inc.
But, the lords of the land called Hollywood didn’t seem to think it was enough. And so, with the legacy of the first film tucked in their pockets, they set out to change the face of animated films again. The final product was a rare theatrical sequel, with all the big stars back in action, and even a few more. The ante had been upped…Could they possibly make it through this uncharted territory and get back to the land of “Happily Ever After?”
For the sake of my readers’ sanity (and my own), I will answer this question in writing that doesn’t resemble a drugged-out children’s-book author. I didn’t think I’d be saying this, but Shrek 2 overcomes its roots as a sequel and actually improves on its predecessor, easily supplanting itself as one of the funniest films of the year, and definitely as the funniest one that’s safe for the whole family.
The plot of the sequel involves Shrek and his true love Fiona, whom have been married, traveling to the land of Far Far Away, where her family has requested to meet her new husband. Of course, like most Ogres, he’s met by hesitation and apprehension, and soon the King, the Fairy Godmother, and the notorious Puss In Boots are all out to end the marriage.
There’s more to it than that, of course, but like most fairy tales, the setup gives away the ending to anyone who’s not under the age of four. The story isn’t exactly brilliant and or suspenseful, so what is there that makes the film worthwhile?
For starters, the animation is beautiful. It’s a far better looking film than its precursor, and at times I found myself wondering if several little details actually were animated, suspecting real images had snuck into the film under my nose. As a man who doesn’t give most animated films the time of day, I was impressed by the imagery, though not to the level of a film like last year’s Finding Nemo. Regardless, it’s a beautifully “drawn” fairy tale land that deserves recognition.
The key to my interest, as with many adult viewers, was the cast of stars, who are in top form. Mike Myers (Shrek), Eddie Murphy (Donkey), and Cameron Diaz (Fiona) return from the original with much success. Myers’ accents are always fun, and Diaz is serviceable (albeit replaceable) as the love interest. Murphy’s role is toned down a bit from the first film, but he still manages to be hilarious when necessary, and is still the comedic centerpiece of the story. The new arrivals, including Antonio Banderas as Puss, John Cleese as Fiona’s father the King, and Larry King as the Ugly Stepsister, are well picked, although I wish Cleese would’ve had more to work with. Banderas’ voice seems to have been made for this role, and steals several scenes. I couldn’t help thinking that “Donkey and Puss” could make a very funny spin-off. Granted, I’d settle for just Puss, as Banderas’ frisky feline is the far more interesting of the two, and cuter too.
While Shrek 2 lacks the originality and sharpness of Shrek, and features a romantic plot that isn’t very romantic (due mostly to predictability), it’s full of plenty of great zingers and hilarious references to pop-culture (Everything from fast food to boy bands to films like Godzilla and Blazing Saddles gets spoofed). The kids will laugh, the parents will laugh, and pretty much everyone else will too. I can’t recommend the story of Shrek 2, but you’ll laugh more than enough while admiring some great fairy tale images. Its popularity has already has led to the production two more sequels (Can they really expect us to fall for the same love story TWO MORE TIMES????), so go check out Shrek 2 and get the magic while it’s there. Odds are that you’ll leave happily (ever?…Nah, I won’t go that far) after the movie.