Starring Cameron Diaz et al
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Steve, . 27 March 2003
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes
So when you're trying to choose a future queen, do you go for bachelorette #1 (Sleeping Beauty, who's a real snoozer), bachelorette #2 (Snow White, who lives with seven guys) or bachelorette #3 (Princess Fiona, who has the advantage of looking and sounding like Cameron Diaz but who is guarded by a fire-breathing dragon)? It's a tough choice, but Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) finally casts his lot with #3. Being royalty, he doesn't actually plan to slay the dragon himself lest he gets his pretty little -- and I do mean little -- body toasted, so he delegates the dangerous work to an ugly, slime green ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers of AUSTIN POWERS fame), who is aided by a loquacious donkey (Eddie Murphy in his sweetest part since he played Mushu in MULAN).
SHREK, Dreamworks/PDI's second computer animated answer to Disney/Pixar's three mega-hits (TOY STORY, A BUG'S LIFE and TOY STORY 2) -- their first was ANTZ -- takes a bawdy approach that pushes the limits of its PG rating. You've probably never thought of using an illustrated book of children's fairy tales for outhouse toilet paper, but writers "Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Joe Stillman and Roger S. H. Schulman" have. (Don't you love the way that the Writers Guild makes hash of the English language in order to ensure each writer gets precisely the proper credit?) Since fairy tale characters are the subjects of the majority of the jokes in SHREK, their union could decide to picket the theaters. Maybe you'll be lucky, and your theater will be picketed by the three blind mice, who certainly are cute in the movie.
With its laugh-a-minute, fast pacing, it is hard to pick out favorites. One of mine comes from the tortured gingerbread man who boldly cries out, "Eat me!" Another is Princess Fiona's great CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON martial arts moment. And, yet another comes when Shrek tells the donkey, "That'll do, donkey. That'll do."
The script throws several barbs Disney's way. (You'll recall that one of the three founders of Dreamworks, Jeffrey Katzenberg, used to work at Disney under Michael Eisner, who kept referring to Katzenberg as a midget. Reportedly, Lord Farquaad's facial resemblance to Eisner and his small stature are intentional and not so subtle jabs.) Lord Farquaad's castle looks like Disneyland, right down to its themed parking areas (Lancelot rather than something like Pinocchio) and singing dolls à la "It's A Small World."
I've just touched the surface of the comedic ideas that the film develops. I haven't even had a chance to mention the break-dancing pigs or the humorous possibilities of inflated snakes.
Even though SHREK never enters Pixar's rarified league, it is an imaginative and side-splitting movie that is a treat for young and old. Well, perhaps not too young since the love struck dragon -- she has the hots for the donkey -- is actually kind of ferocious when she's burning up the joint. But, bathroom humor and all, SHREK is such a good-spirited film that everyone will love it. My son's sixth grade class, who were there en masse at our screening, thought SHREK was terrific. I concur.
SHREK runs 1:27. It is rated PG for mild language and some crude humor and would be acceptable for just about everyone.
My son Jeffrey, age 12, who still hasn't stop repeating his favorite lines from SHREK, gave the film a full ****. His favorite part was when the donkey talks to Shrek, saying "We'll stay up late, tell manly stories and, in the morning, I'm making waffles!" Jeffrey friend Nickolas, age 12, also gave it ****, saying it was "hilarious!" His friend Eliot, age 12, gave it *** and said that he liked the onion joke the best.
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