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Shrek 2

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Shrek 2

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy
Director: Andrew Adamson
Rated: PG
RunTime: 105 Minutes
Release Date: May 2004
Genres: Animation, Comedy, Kids, Family

*Also starring: Cameron Diaz, John Cleese, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jennifer Saunders, Conrad Vernon, Larry King, Rupert Everett

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

DreamWorks, probably after extensive focus group testing throughout the Magic Kingdom (whoops, sorry, that's another studio), decided on a name for the follow-up to SHREK, their blockbuster hit of 2001. Rejecting such suggestions as SHREKER, THE RETURN OF THE JOLLY GREEN OGRE and PRINCESS FI, they decided that a simpler SHREK 2 would be their ticket to instant riches this year. The third blockbuster of this summer season, after VAN HELSING and TROY, it's the first good one, and the first one of the three whose extensive use of CGI -- SHREK 2, of course, is all CGI -- is well worth the money spent.

The real difference in SHREK 2 over the one-hundred-million-dollar-plus-budget films released most recently before it, however, is the script, which is simply sublime. The screenplay of SHREK 2 has none of TROY's clunkiness or VAN HELSING's laughably bad lines. SHREK 2 may not be more than a collection of funny bits, but, man o' man, are these bits hilarious. The movie features famous voice talents, but, other than Eddie Murphy, who does his best work in years in the SHREK series, the actors are never quite as good as the golden lines that they're given.

In contrast to Pixar's extra family friendliness, DreamWorks likes its movies to be irreverent and as modern as possible. SHREK 2 may be set in a fairy tale in a medieval shire, but the music and sensibilities are as timely as teen interchanges at your local mall.

The plot has Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and his wife Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) going back to visit her mommy and daddy, King Harold and Queen Lillian (voiced by John Cleese and Julie Andrews), the royal family of the land known as Far Far Away. The country's name is prominently displayed in a HOLLYWOOD-like sign on the hills above its castle. Accompanying Shrek and Fiona on their journey is their lovable and loquacious donkey (voiced by Murphy). Constantly demanding to know if they are there yet, the donkey also complains that there is "no in-flight movie or nothing" in their carriage.

The animators do a lot with the cuteness of little pet-sized animals. Antonio Banderas is great as Puss-in-Boots, whose secret weapon is his ability to make extra big eyes that are so adorable that they stop grown men dead in their tracks. Fiona is given a little white poodle, who is just about the only non-English speaking character in the story. This little ball of barking fur, however, is great with visual expressions which can melt hearts.

From Friar's Fat Boy to Farbuck's Coffee, the movie does a splendid job of poking fun at the fast food industry. It does this better and more honestly than the current hit documentary, SUPER SIZE ME, which attempts to skewer McDonalds with a pseudo-realistic experiment.

Other funny episodes include many movie rip-offs -- from Pinocchio doing a rendition of Tom Cruise in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE to Puss-in-Boots reenacting the shower dance from FLASHDANCE before belting out "Livin' La Vida Loca." One of my favorite moments occurs as Joan Rivers (voiced by Joan Rivers, who else?) covers an event which mimics the red carpet extravaganza of the Oscars. Watching it at home with his friends, the Gingerbread Man (voiced by Conrad Vernon) hates it and wants to change the channel to "Wheel of Torture."

So is it as good as the original? Pretty close. And, if forced to choose, I think I slightly prefer this sequel. SHREK 2 is another don't-miss gem from DreamWorks.

SHREK 2 runs 1:33. It is rated PG for "some crude humor, a brief substance reference and some suggestive content" and would be acceptable for all ages.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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