Newlyweds Shrek and Fiona meet the In-laws.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
The sizable success of the first Shrek brings to the sequel the original cast of pitch-perfect actors—including Mike Myers as the lovable ogre, Cameron Diaz as his newly green bride Fiona, and Eddie Murphy as the excessively talkative donkey. Although the sequel’s jokes aren’t as trenchant or as many as they were in the original, Shrek 2 dutifully follows the same vein of zippy dialogue and colorful comic episodes that are as comfy and gratifying as a bowl of strawberries and cream on a hot summer day.
Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) stirs up chaos when she invades the first acquaintance of Shrek with Fiona’s parents (voiced by Julie Andrews and John Cleese) in an attempt to replace Fiona’s ogre husband with her vain son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). Antonio Banderas adds laughs as the voice of the feisty Puss In Boots, who teams up to help Shrek overcome the evil Fairy Godmother.
The story picks up with Fiona insisting that Shrek join her on a long trip to meet her parents, the King and Queen of a village known as “Far Far Away.” Their arduous journey is made all the longer by the company of Eddie Murphy’s spastic donkey, who can’t stop asking if they have arrived yet every five seconds. When they finally reach their destination, Far Far Away resembles Hollywood right down to the number of chain coffee shops and clothing stores. The obvious product placement is jarring, and reminds us that commercialism is just as much a part of the corporate-infected formula for animated movies as it is for live action features.
The King and Queen host a terrific banquet for Fiona and Shrek that digresses into a great food fight with some assistance from the donkey, who presumes that he too should sit for dinner. The nightmare event spurs the King to wander off into the night to engage an assassin to do away with Shrek, but he hires somewhat less than he bargained for in the guise of a fierce orange tabby with high boots and a fencing foil. This Puss in Boots has a Zorro complex that’s at odds with his inner feline nature.
Shrek 2 hits high gear when our three comrades sneak into the Fairy Godmother’s potion factory to the sound of the Buzzcock’s infectiously poppy “Ever Fallen In Love.” The movie also makes crafty use of David Bowie’s song “Changes,” although neither is the original version. Puss in Boots locates a beauty potion in the enormous factory that turns Shrek, and Fiona, into attractive human beings. The donkey also imbibes some of the magic purple liquid, turning him into an overzealous white stallion.
There are a couple of regrettable musical numbers with the Fairy Godmother that reduce Shrek 2 to a Broadway play. It’s a wonder that some corner of the animated feature form should still be relegated to a Broadway format, squandering screentime that would be better served by plot or humor. Still, Shrek 2 is an explosion of vibrant color and inventive comedy that plays like a cartoon come to life. While it lacks the freshness and fast twitch wit of the original, Shrek 2 is a spirit-lifting joyride.
SHREK 2 (Three
Directed byAndrew Adamson
Starring (voices of) Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas
(Rated PG, 92 mins.)