Tag Archives: Shrek

Shrek 2 continues to turn fairy tales on their heads

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On this day in film history, Shrek 2 (2004) came bouncing into theaters. Like the original, Shrek 2 received extremely positive reviews and proved to be the most profitable film in the series until Shrek the Third (2007).

As the story opens, a mysterious figure makes its way to Fiona’s castle, boasting all the time about how he’s going to rescue the princess (having no idea that this has already happened long since). Instead of meeting Fiona, Prince Charming (yes, that’s really his name) meets the Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, who informs him that Fiona is already on her honeymoon. (During the honeymoon montage, Shrek ends up being kissed by a red-headed mermaid that is likely a reference to Disney’s Ariel because we never see her face (Fiona drags her away and throws her to the sharks first)).

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As Shrek and Fiona return from said honeymoon, they get an unexpected message from Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen of Far Far Away (as in “once upon a time, in a land far far away), who want to see their daughter and her new husband at once. They eventually go, but things are decidedly awkward as no one was expecting Fiona to have married an ogre.

Meanwhile, it turns out that years ago, the King of Far Far Away (John Cleese) made a deal with the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) for her son Charming to marry Fiona, and on the basis of that deal, she gave him HIS “happily ever after” years ago. When the Fairy Godmother threatens to revoke the arrangement, the King agrees to find someone to kill Shrek so Charming can step in. Enter…Puss n’ Boots (Antonio Banderas in a brilliant casting choice), famed ogre killer extraordinaire.

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A big message in this film is the importance of accepting others for who they really are, and not trying to change them into your vision of “normal” or “happy.” Granted, Shrek and Fiona don’t match the happy couple everyone initially expects, but the King and Queen gradually come to understand that the two are deeply in love, especially after the lengths Shrek goes to in winning Fiona back (there’s a hilarious sequence where Shrek takes a potion, becomes human, which makes Fiona human again, only Charming is pretending to be human Shrek, it’s a long story, but you should watch it!)

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Jennifer Saunders (voicing the Fairy Godmother) steals every scene she’s in. This is NOTHING like the Fairy Godmother from Cinderella, while she pretends to be this sugary, lovey figure who only wants to grant wishes, the Godmother is really a nasty person, who’s really out for herself and her spoiled rotten son Charming (she made the deal with the King in order to see her son Charming eventually take the throne, so that presumably she could influence the Kingdom in her son’s name). It’s a shame she only appears in this film, she’d have made a great recurring villain.
 
The pop music scenes are awesome as well, including this great scene at the climax of the film where the Fairy Godmother sings “I Need a Hero” while human Shrek storms the castle with a giant Gingerbread Man.

Shrek 2 “I Need a Hero” (2004)

Don’t get me wrong, the original film is a great movie, but I almost enjoy this sequel more because it really fleshes out the world that Shrek takes place in.

Random thoughts:

Julie Andrews is perfect as the Queen, that is all.

The reveal of the King as the “Frog Prince” was brilliant.

I’m still weirded out about Donkey and Dragon having kids because, I mean think about it, HOW did that work??? (also, while Donkey was a stallion, the producers stated that Dragon turned into a Pegasus).

Puss ‘n Boots might be one of the greatest characters this film series has ever produced, PERIOD. And nobody could do it like Antonio Banderas, absolutely nobody.

The numerous pop culture references in the Land of Far Far Away are too many to count, but they’re all well-done and it’s fun to watch the movie and try to catch all of them.

*film poster is the property of DreamWorks Pictures

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Shrek (2001) upends fairy tales!

Shrek (2001) upends fairy tales!

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I have a confession: knowing that Shrek is fifteen years old today makes me feel exceptionally old (and I’m only 27).

On this day in film history, Shrek was released by DreamWorks Pictures and established the studio as a competitor to Pixar in the world of computer animation (as the technology used in Shrek was state of the art at the time of release). The film is a combination of a parody film and a fractured fairy tale in that, at times the film openly mocks pop culture (Duloc is a parody of Disneyland) and it also twists the original fairy tales (princesses are supposed to be rescued by handsome princes and defended FROM the ogre, not vice versa).

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In this story, reclusive ogre Shrek (Mike Meyers) is forced into a quest to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) for the spineless Lord Farquad (John Lithgow) when his swamp home is overrun with fairy tale refugees driven out by Farquad (who desires perfection above all else, and fairy tale creatures don’t belong as far as he is concerned). Fiona appears to be a spoiled princess upon first meeting: she’s miffed that she’s been rescued by an ogre and not “Prince Charming”, she’s rude and demanding, but over time she, Shrek and Shrek’s annoying sidekick Donkey (Eddie Murphy) reach an understanding.

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But Fiona has a BIG secret of her own. It turns out (*spoiler alert*) that she’s under a curse: by day she’s a gorgeous princess, but by night, she turns into an ogre (a female version of Shrek, to be precise). She tries to tell Shrek about it because she discovers she wants to go off with the ogre (and to heck with “happily ever after”) but due to a misunderstanding, Shrek thinks that Fiona hates him for being a “beast” (not realizing that Fiona was talking about herself). As a result, an unhappy Fiona ends up being led away by Lord Farquad (who also has no idea about his bride-to-be’s secret). Thankfully, due to some intervention by Donkey, Shrek comes to accept that he does love Fiona after all and saves her at the last minute from being wed to Farquad (who himself ends up as a dragon’s dinner in a particularly satisfying moment).

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In one final twist, the curse is broken, but instead of remaining human (as you might expect in a traditional fairy tale film), Fiona remains an ogre (which makes her absolutely beautiful in Shrek’s eyes) and they get married and ride off in an onion carriage (a parody of Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage), but is it happily ever after? Shrek 2 might have something to say about that…

I remember going to see this movie in theaters and laughing hysterically for most of the story. The film does appear slightly dated fifteen years down the road (CGI has advanced by leaps and bounds since then) but it’s still a cute family film (that will hopefully be added to my collection someday).

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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