Shrek 2

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Cast:
Mike Myers as Shrek (voice)
Eddie Murphy as Donkey (voice)
Cameron Diaz as Fiona (voice)
Antonio Banderas as Puss-in-Boots (voice)
John Cleese as King Harold (voice)
Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian (voice)
Rupert Everett as Prince Charming (voice)
Jennifer Saunders as The Fairy Godmother (voice)
Larry King as The Ugly Stepsister (voice)
Conrad Vernon as The Gingerbread Man (voice)

Summary:
Shrek 2 is as good as or better than the original. Puss In Boots steals the show, but all of your favorites are still here in top form.

Story:
This is the sequel to the 2001 film “Shrek”.

After returning home from their honeymoon, Shrek and Fiona receive a message from Fiona’s parents, King Harold and Queen Lillian. They would like to meet their new son-in-law, Shrek. However, they don’t know that he’s an ogre and Fiona is still an ogress. Fully expecting a harsh welcome, Shrek is unwilling to go but he gets dragged along anyway. Donkey joins him for the ride.

When they arrive in the Beverly Hills-like town of “Far, Far Away” and the happy ogre couple is revealed, Shrek gets exactly the greeting that he expected. He quickly begins fighting with King Harold over Fiona. Little does Shrek know that Harold had a special deal with Prince Charming and his mother, The Fairy Godmother, for him to rescue Fiona and marry her. With Shrek beating Charming to her, their plans are ruined. Now The Fairy Godmother is determined to get rid of Shrek and have her son marry Fiona. She has Harold hire a hit man to get rid of Shrek – Puss In Boots.

Will Shrek be able to get rid of the competition and live happily ever with Fiona? And will he ever believe that she could possibly love a hideous ogre more than a charming prince?

Shrek 2 is rated PG for some crude humor, a brief substance reference and some suggestive content.

What Worked:
I took my wife and young kids to see this movie at a recent screening and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d say that it’s at least as good as the first Shrek if not more enjoyable. Just like the first film it has a great sense of humor and features jokes for both children and adults. They also fixed my main gripe about the first film – they eliminated some of the more risqué adult humor. I enjoyed the movie a lot more since I didn’t have to worry about my 5 year old “getting” some of the profanity and sex jokes that were prominent in the original. Because of this it ended up being a movie the whole family could enjoy. Shrek 2 also didn’t have quite as much “gross out humor” as the first one (that I never minded), so some die-hard Shrek fans may be disappointed. But I think this movie makes up for that in many other ways.

Despite not having as many gross out jokes as the first film, it still features the obligatory burp and fart jokes. They also take potshots at Disney characters again like The Little Mermaid. Early in the film, an Ariel look alike is shown kissing Shrek on the beach. Fiona promptly grabs her and throws her back into the ocean among great white sharks that devour her. Nice touch! There are also tons of homages to other movies including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Alien, E.T., Zorro, Mission: Impossible, From Here To Eternity, and more. There are subtle laughs spread through the movie as well. In one scene, the town is being attack and fleeing citizens run screaming out of a Starbucks right across the street into another Starbucks. That’s the kind of thing that kids will miss but adults will crack up at. Those moments are through the whole story.

Your favorite characters from the first film also return. Of course there’s Shrek who is just as grumpy as he ever was. It’s good to see that Fiona hasn’t mellowed him. She also returns in her ogress form though she’s not as big a player this time around. And you have Donkey again who is his usual annoying self (in a good way). Many of the secondary characters also return including the Gingerbread Man, the Wolf in Grandma’s clothing, Three Blind Mice, Pinocchio, and the Three Little Pigs. They generate some of the biggest laughs in the climax of the film.

The new characters in the film are fantastic. You have John Cleese as King Harold and Julie Andrews as Queen Lillian. While Andrews is generally in the background and plays the “straight man”, Cleese is a major character in the film and moves the plot along. He’s more than a match for Shrek and he has a hidden secret that it revealed towards the end of the film (though it’s no challenge to guess it early on). And though Harold is the bad guy through most of the film, Cleese still manages to make him likable by the end. Rupert Everett is also appropriately vain and arrogant as Prince Charming while Larry King has a brief, though hilarious cameo as The Ugly Stepsister. Jennifer Saunders really delivers a fine performance as The Fairy Godmother. She sings, dances, and seems to revel in being the villain. If you liked her in Absolutely Fabulous, you’ll enjoy her in Shrek 2.

The best of the new characters is definitely Antonio Banderas as Puss-in-Boots. Whether you’re a cat lover or hater, you’ll get a kick out of this kitty. He provides some of the funniest moments in the film. His initial claw attack on Shrek is great and is made funnier by the sudden onset of a nasty hairball. That scene alone proves these guys really studied their cats for the film. Puss’ ultimate secret weapon is also quite amusing though I won’t spoil it here. He’s a great foil to Donkey and this ends up being a great role for Banderas.

The animation is fantastic, but I didn’t see anything new here that wasn’t done in the first film. I wouldn’t say any ground was broken as far as CG animation goes, but it still looks excellent. The animators really get wonderful performances out of their characters and the humans, though intentionally cartoony, look great.

Shrek 2 ends up being a fun film and there are a few twists and turns in the plot that I won’t spoil here. If you liked the first film, I think you’ll enjoy this. And be sure to stay partway through the credits to see a revelation about Donkey.

What Didn’t Work:
I can’t think of anything in this film that didn’t really work. If I had to mention anything, I’d say I don’t think the song selection was as cool as it was in the first film. The songs in Shrek 2 are good and they get the job done, but they aren’t nearly as memorable as the ones in the original. It’s a bit cringe-worthy when they start singing “Livin’ La Vida Loca”.

The Bottom Line:
Shrek 2 is a fun film that the whole family can enjoy. I think the adults may enjoy it even more than the kids.

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