Shrek the ugly, antisocial Ogre [Scottishly voiced by Mike Myers] is happy living by himself in his swamp, frightening away any visitors, until he rescues a non-stop talking donkey [Eddie Murphy] and then gets invaded by a host of displaced fairy tale characters, evicted by the evil Lord Farquaad [John Lithgow]. Shrek goes to protest this invasion, and ends up on a quest to rescue Princess Fiona [Cameron Diaz] from the dragon, so that Farquaard can marry her to become King. But Princess Fiona has a terrible secret...
This is just brilliant. The straightforward conventional fairytale plot is merely a framework on which to hang an endless sequence of devastatingly witty jokes, which take the mickey out of everything from fairytales, Disneyland and Disneyfication, martial arts action movies, even Mary Poppins! There are marvelous scenes of threatening the talking mirror, interrogating the gingerbread man, fighting Monsieur Hood, ... the list goes on. And the animation is superb, too.
There's probably just enough slapstick and toilet humour to entertain the kids -- but the adults will be roaring with laughter throughout.
reviewed 25 August 2001
Shrek and Princess Fiona, happily married, receive an invitation from her parents [John Cleese, Julie Andrews] to visit, for Shrek to receive her father the king's blessing. Shrek is highly dubious, visualising a pitchfork reception, but Fiona persuades him to go. Donkey invites himself along. The problem is, she was supposed to have married Prince Charming [Rupert Everett], and there are dastardly plans afoot, particularly involving Pusssss ... in Boots [Antonio Banderas], to make that the real Happy Ever After. Cue the Fairy Godmother [Jennifer Saunders] ...
More utterly brilliant spoofing, of fairy tales, of Hollywood, of Oscar ceremonies, of more modern films. The big jokes and the little jokes (watch for the pepper spray!) are wonderfully interwoven. The animation is even better -- and they can do hair -- watch for the hair waving joke, twice!
Just sit back and laugh until your ribs ache. And make sure you stay until at least half-way through the credits (you'll know when) to get the final ending.
reviewed 10 July 2004
The king is ill, and Shrek has to stand in for him -- but an Ogre does not make a good king. So Shrek sets off to find the lost heir. Meanwhile, Prince Charming has a cunning plan to win the throne of Far Far Away...
All the gang is here: Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots, even the Gingerbreadman. And the new characters, especially the air-headed rescued princesses, add to the plot. It's clever, and it's funny -- but it's not as funny as the previous two, simply because of the lower density of jokes. It's underdeveloped: mainly surface level, with not enough "background detail" to flesh it out. And the moralising (Shrek becoming a father, the heir taking responsibility, etc) is laid on a bit thick. So, definitely fun, but we know how much better it could have been.
reviewed 4 January 2009
We learn that Princess Fiona's parents had just been about to sign a deal with Rumplestiltskin to make their problems vanish when they heard the news that Shrek had broken the curse. (The role of Rumplestiltskin as the baddy here has extra resonances after having seen Once Upon a Time .)
Now Shrek is married to Fiona, with cute little ogre-triplets, living Happily Forever After. But he's finding that all that domestic bliss is beginning to pall, and at the triplets' first birthday party, he throws a wobbly and storms off. He wishes he could be a "proper" ogre again, just for one day. And, would you know it, Rumplestiltskin pops up, with a contract ready for Shrek to sign. All he has to do is pay with one day of his life from earlier on. So, of course, he signs. And, of course, things go horribly wrong. He's in a devastated kingdom, with witches running rampant, ogres enslaved, Donkey a stranger, Fiona a still-cursed resistance leader, Puss-too-fat-for-Boots, and Rumplestiltskin in charge! Shrek has to put things to rights, but, to his horror, discovers he has only that one day to do so. Cue mayhem.
This is a return to classic fairy tale: be careful what you wish for. It also has the extra advantage of seeing all the "usual" characters in different roles, particularly Princess Fiona the rebel leader who rescued herself since no-one else came to save her. The resolution battle is well-executed, and there are lots of those little in-jokes that makes this series so good. In the end (for this is, after all, a fairy tale) the world is set to rights, and Shrek realises there is no place like home. (Although, the moral of all such stories does seem to be the depressing: don't long to do something different; be content with the dull boring life you have. The world is not changed or improved; it is merely set back to how it always was, but with the protagonist now somehow appreciating it because the alternative is even worse. Hmm.)
reviewed 25 December 2012