On a quest. Our heroes Shrek, Donkey and Fiona continue their journey...
dir Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
scr Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger SH Schulman
voices Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel, Conrad Vernon, Chris Miller, Cody Cameron, Kathleen Freeman, Christopher Knights, Michael Galasso, Val Bettin
release US 18.May.01; UK 29.Jun.01
It's The Princess Bride meets Aladdin in Dreamworks' new envelope-pushing animated feature, an energetic, irreverent fairy tale drawn with astonishing precision and wit. And besides all the hilarity, the story's quite nice too.
Shrek (Myers) is an ogre living happily in his swamp, when he's invaded by hundreds of fairy tale characters--everyone from Snow White and Peter Pan to the Gingerbread Man and the Three Bears. They're refugees from the fussy Lord Farquaad (Lithgow), who doesn't like all those mutants cluttering up his tidy fiefdom. And worse yet, an irritatingly chatty Donkey (Murphy) decides he's Shrek's new best friend! So Shrek, with Donkey in tow, heads off to give Farquaad a piece of his mind, and in return for his privacy agrees to rescue Princess Fiona (Diaz) from a fire-breathing dragon so she can marry Farquaad and he can become a real king. But there are surprises in store as Shrek and Donkey head out on their quest, most notably because the princess has a few secrets up her sleeve.
The film is technically amazing, as the animation occupies real space, looking quite unlike even the Pixar stuff (Toy Story et al). Everything flows naturally, with lifelike textures and movement; things like skin, fire and water look gorgeous. And yet this would mean little without artistry and humour, which is in abundant supply in both the script and the animation itself. Perhaps the only complaint is that the "ugly" creatures are actually quite adorable; it's hard to feel for Shrek's hideousness when he looks so cute and cuddly. Myers adds a sympathetic voice (with a Scottish accent?) that makes us like him even more. Lithgow is hilarious in his small role; Diaz gives Fiona just the right spark; and Murphy steals the show as usual with his wacky verbal antics, matched perfectly by the animators' inventiveness. And yet, Donkey is so irritating that like Shrek we want to muzzle him (although he's not quite as annoying as Jar Jar Binks or Mushu, Murphy's character in Mulan). The physical mayhem and gross-out humour will keep kids giggling helplessly while the grown-ups enjoy the general anarchic satire. But it's the story itself that makes the film so endearing--we actually start to care for the characters, even though we know from the start how it will all end.