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1 item from 2004

Shrek 2

2 July 2004 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

CANNES -- As magic potions go, Shrek 2 may not have the marvelous kick of the original movie -- that dazzling combination of heart and soul and of magic and satire. But the new movie has a most definite kick. Relying this time more on gags and slapstick comedy, Shrek 2 reunites one of the best voice casts ever for an animated film to create a shrewd entertainment that again successfully aims its jokes at various age groups.

Shrek 2 may not replicate the original's huge boxoffice accomplishment, but it will be a major hit for DreamWorks. Like the first film, Shrek 2 debuted at Cannes, where it is screening In Competition.

For much of the movie, a savvy viewer may feel that he is in a pitch meeting where teams of screenwriters are tossing ideas around. Where Shrek followed a clearly delineated path in its storytelling, the sequel jumps here and there in search of plot threads. Writers Andrew Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stem and David N. Weiss are forced to begin where most fairy tales end, at the "happy ever after" bit. What does come with "happy ever after"?

Well, there would be the in-laws, of course. Which leads to the "racial" question: After all, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) did marry an ogre in Shrek (Mike Myers again with that distinct brogue). Perhaps out of sympathy, Fiona in the second movie is looking a lot like Shrek, only just not as green. Nevertheless, when the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of the Kingdom of Far Far Away invite the newlyweds over for a meet-and-greet, their shock is palpable.

And what if Fiona's Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) is the scheming mother of immaculately attired Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), the guy who was supposed to marry Fiona and actually looks the part? And what if Shrek and Fiona return from the honeymoon to find motormouth Donkey (Eddie Murphy, hilarious once again) still ensconced at their swamp-land hovel? And what if the shocked King and the furious Fairy Godmother scheme to eliminate Shrek, and the King slips into the Poison Apple Inn to hire famed ogre-killer Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas)? And what if Shrek and Donkey sneak into Fairy Godmother's potion factory and steal a formula that turns Shrek from a hulk to a hunk and Donkey into a stallion?

Yes, it's a nervous narrative, to say the least. One figure, Puss in Boots, is a delightful character, wonderfully animated and voiced, yet he serves no real purpose in the fractured story. Nevertheless, the genial wisecracks and hilarious characters put one in a forgiving mood. Plus the film is filled with so many delicious gags, it's impossible to spot them all on first viewing.

The Kingdom of Far Far Away, for instance, has a distinctly Beverly Hills/Hollywood look. A towering Far Far Away sign dominates the hill overlooking palm tree-lined streets where subjects shop at Saxxon Fifth Avenue, Versarchery, Pewtery Barn and Armani Armoury and grab coffees at Farbucks. The movie spoofs just about every fairly tale from childhood with cameos by Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs and Sleeping Beauty, who literally falls ... asleep. And, what's this, Joan Rivers kidding herself doing the arrivals at the palace and Larry King as a drag-queen Ugly Stepsister?

Music supervisor Chris Douridas drops many coins into a juke box to deliver a soundtrack filled with disco, Counting Crows, David Bowie and even the themes to Rawhide and Mission: Impossible.

While the story is lame, you cannot dislike this movie. The quips fly back and forth between Shrek and Donkey with timing worthy of the Marx Brothers. The 3-D animation under the direction of Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon has gotten even better, especially in the modeling of the human faces and the play of light within individual scenes.

Shrek 2 again presents a world of sight gags, puns, anachronisms and satire within the confines of an off-center fairy tale filled with richly detailed characters and a vibrant sense of fun.



A PDI/DreamWorks production


Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon

Screenwriters: Andrew Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stem, David N. Weiss

Story by: Andrew Adamson

Based on the book by: William Steig

Producers: Aron Warner, David Lipman, John H. Williams

Executive producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg

Production designer: Guillaume Aretos

Music: Harry Gregson-Williams

Visual effects supervisor: Ken Bielenberg

Editors: Michael Andrews, Sim Evan-Jones


Shrek: Mike Myers

Donkey: Eddie Murphy

Princess Fiona: Cameron Diaz

Queen: Julie Andrews

Puss in Boots: Antonio Banderas: King: John Cleese

Prince Charming: Rupert Everett

Fairy Godmother: Jennifer Saunders

Running time -- 105 minutes

MPAA rating: PG »

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