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I did laugh several times during the movie. Yet some of the times I did, I could at the same time not suppress a feeling of uneasiness on account of the children sitting (and laughing) behind me. The jokes I am talking about were bordering on tastelessness and morbidity. Wiping one's behind seems to be a major motif in the movie, but that should perhaps be expected from Myers (whom I do enjoy in films designed for a mature audience). Yet exploding birds and inflated frogs are something I do not want my eventual children to see. Certainly the tips-of-the-hat, as for example to every fairy-tale I have ever heard, are funny, but that is all that the film consists of. There is no originality, all is a spin-off or spoof. The dialogues between the donkey and Shrek are funny if you are five years old and haven't seen Mulan (there Eddie Murphy lends his voice to the same side-kick character, the little dragon, where his now cliche joke slang had far more intelligence and originality), Aladdin or Hercules. Same old jokes, and even triter for the repetition. The only times I laughed were the above mentioned instances of risque tastelessness a la There's Something About Mary; I am not contradicting myself here, all I said was that they are absolutely unfit for an audience of children. Shrek is certainly a mirror unto our American Culture. Pro-wrestling, hip-hop slang and Myers' fake British accent a la mode, theme park parking lots and pop songs. All that assembled in a better-than-life digital pastiche, voila. More money for DreamWorks. They have the technology but lack the creativity. They have the precision but lack all passion. I felt curiously empty after the movie. And since when are the voices behind the animations so important that their names are all you see on the movie posters?
The Simpsons has been one of my favorite TV shows, and for the same reason that I like the Simpsons is what makes Shrek so good. The Simpsons takes the children-only medium of cartoons and makes an adult show out of it, with jokes in it that only adults will find amusing, some for adult eyes' only. Shrek is animation, a beautiful computer animation that looks realistic and bold, has enough kiddy humor in it to make the kids like it, but has even more jokes that adults will love. It's the cross between childhood innocence and adult knowledge that brings Shrek so many laughs. Mike Myers supplies the voice of Shrek, an ogre who enjoys living by himself in his swamp on the outskirt of Duloc, a near-perfect kingdom ran by the insecure Lord Farquaad, voice with wonderful swarmy-ness by John Lithgow. When Farquaad begins to deposit all of the mythical creatures that populate his kingdom into Shrek's swamp, Shrek demands to see the king, and only the smart-ass Donkey knows the way. Donkey is a sassy talking, well, donkey, voiced by Eddie Murphy and is the Lou Costello to Shrek's Bud Abbot--to say Shrek is the straight man in this odd couple is an understatement. After meeting the king, Shrek and Donkey then have a quest of finding Fraquaad Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), an imprisoned lady guarded by a dragon. I personally would have gone with Snow White, but to each their own. What also sets Shrek apart from other animated movies is the music, mostly rock music, mostly from Smashmouth. I do not think a Disney picture would have made the same selections. It gives it a different feel from the usual animated fare, Shrek for sure has it's own identity. Getting back to the animation, the computer generated scenery and characters are great to look at, very lifelike, even the human beings. Pixar, who has made films such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo, has made it clear that human beings are the most difficult objects to animate on computers, but I think DreamWorks got it right in Shrek--there is nothing there that makes me say "that does not look right." There are great in-jokes about the world of childhood stories, while sprinkling in some very adult humor. The best sight gags for me revolve around Farquaad interrogating a gingerbread man and threatening a magic mirror. Shrek will entertain and amuse the young and old alike.
My wife and I recently rented this movie on DVD and it was our first
viewing. Let me say that I went into this with low expectations, which set
me up to be pleasantly surprised.
But that didn't happen. This movie is very unoriginal. The jokes are almost entirely tired, worn out ones that we've all heard many times before. How many times do they (hollywood) expect us to laugh at passing gas? That joke got tired when I was like 16.
The characters are equally unoriginal. When the donkey opened his mouth, I thought, "Eddie Murphy as the 'colorful' little sidekick?" Mulan pretty much used up the quota on that one. At least in Mulan he got to say some funny lines.
At times, I felt like I wasn't watching a movie. It's almost like a set of animated, disconnected music videos. Anyway, there's very little wit on display and the characters are not at all endearing to the audience. You can tell that the writers are trying too hard. They just don't have it.
Cynical, smart-ass computer-animated comedy from DreamWorks begins with green medieval ogre Shrek reading a fairy tale in an outhouse... Later, after reluctantly falling for a princess who suffers under a curse, he attempts to be a local hero by returning the girl to her father and regaining his swamp land. Gross-out humor (for the 12-&-under crowd) permeates this in-jokey venture, which is further undermined by misplaced rock songs on the soundtrack and too-familiar star-voices for the characters (mostly sounding annoying and hammy). For many adults, the obvious references, easy-target humor and to-the-rafters slapstick seemed to suffice, yet the picture is awfully crude. Based on the book by William Steig, it was of course hugely popular at the box-office and spawned two sequels (so far). ** from ****
Shrek is a sprawling surge into fairytale archetypes and stereotypes
the ogre, the noble steed, the damsel in distress, the evil lord, a
fire-breathing dragon, Pinnochio, the three little pigs, the medieval
tournaments and the festering forest swamp it indulges and loses
itself in the fun of these staples and it makes no pretense about it.
The creators at DreamWorks Studios brush up on an old fairytale premise
of a hero saving the damsel in distress from the dragon's keep with
intelligent, deft strokes. The result is a meticulously animated,
hilarious, heartwarming fluff of a film.
The film's most prominent weapon in its arsenal is humour that takes the form of biting, comical, and even brilliant satire. Nearly every scene is peppered with pop-culture references, spoofs and homages as has become DreamWorks' trademark of sorts yet not quite as many of them as in Shrek II. Although it is an evenly enjoyable experience, a handful of scenes truly jump out and grab you. The brilliant rapport between the Gingerbread Man "Gingie" and the evil Lord Farquaad (voiced by funnyman John Lithgow) makes itself known at the beginning of the film in the interrogation room. The morbid lord has torn off Gingie's legs and is now toying with them: "Run, run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!", his wicked veneer transforming into a twisted, sadistic smile, to which Gingie boldly exclaims: "Eat me!"
Shrek, Donkey and Fiona are nevertheless the most thoroughly likable characters and they are given the most screen time in the film. The two former are an unlikely pair: an anti-social, misunderstood green ogre and a clingy, annoying, talking donkey. They reluctantly set out to accomplish a mission for Lord Farquaad to bring home princess Fiona but end up with more than they bargained for. It is this genius triumvirate of animated persons that take the front row in DreamWorks' Shrek; they are its goldmine, its heart, its soul and its most blatant source of comedy. It is however easy to see how the film's glorious, meticulous and aesthetically intoxicating setting could overshadow even its protagonist Shrek, yet this aspect is always firmly placed in the backseat of the story. Substance over style, in other words, but rest assured that animated visuals will not get much more striking than this.
I am in fact pressed to find an aspect of the film that was noticeably sub-par. Everything truly is wonderfully created. From the crisp animation to the YMCA/Michael Flatley/Robin Hood spoofs to the rapid-fire pop-culture references to the deadpan deliveries to heartfelt story, all is well-sewn together in the story. Even the mandatory sing-and-dancer number at the end purposely avoids a cheesy approach (unlike Shrek II). I suppose, if anything it is somewhat heavy on the 'message & moral' side of things and toward the end it often tips over into corny lessons.
8 out of 10
Now, I realize that a lot of people really enjoyed this movie. I can't
honestly say it was the WORST film ever made...But I think all the hype
surrounding it actually may have given it some unattainable
First off...It was ugly. Plain and simple. Some of the scenery was pretty, but the characters looked like regular, saturday morning-style animation, just using CGI. I won't even ATTEMPT to compare it to Monsters Inc., or Toy Story.
And to some people, it may have been funny. But I tire of "butt" and "fart" jokes pretty quickly. And by the end of the film I was ready to jam pencils into my eardrums, simply to escape that donkeys constant babbling. It felt like a chore to have to finish it.
If you are ready for a mediocre film, with immature humour, and an incredibly irritating donkey, Shrek is it.
I can't really believe that this movie won Best Animated Deature over
"Monsters, Inc." I have not seen a movie that is so bizarre and stupid
as this one. They make fun of Disney by putting Disney characters in
the movie, such as Pinocchio, the three little pigs, the big bad wolf,
the seven Dwarfs, and so on. I don't like movies that make fun of other
companies who spend many man hours making good movies. Shrek was not
the best movie I have ever seen.
I can't say, however, that there aren't any funny parts. I think that "Donkey" should be given an actual name. He is really annoying, that's really what makes this movie not worth watching.
My Score: 2/10.
Shrek has hidden messages that will likely sail right over the heads of its target audience. The resettlement of the fairly tale creatures in the villainous Farquaad's (ruthless and cruel Anglo-Saxon) kingdom is an allusion to the resettlement of Jews in ghettos carried out by many European principalities during the Middle Ages (at the time of Martin Luther, I think they were expelled from England, France and Spain but tolerated, with restrictions, in some German city states). The filmmakers seem to be suggesting that just as Farquaad did not appreciate the fairy tale creatures and their magical and unique abilities and may have in fact been afraid of them, so, too, were Europeans afraid of Jews and their foreign culture and thus unjustly persecuted them. Apparently, all for no good reason. Shrek, the ogre, of course, represents how the African would have been received in medieval European society. He is feared and misunderstood as a stupid, grotesque, and violent menace. Of course, we are shown that in his private moments, he is anything but these undesirable qualities and his moral fibre transcends his physical ugliness. The fact that the fair princess Fiona is revealed to really be an ogress is to confirm that well worn cliché that we are all the same inside. In a classic fairy tale, which Shrek is the antithesis of, written by someone like Hans Christian Anderson for instance, Farquaad would be the hero, Shrek the villain, and Fiona would indeed be the fairest maiden in all the land.
This most assuredly is not a perfect film, but it is a marvelous send-up of the fairy-tale genre and the script is great. This has romance, humor, a talking donkey, no car chases and makes fun of The Mouse. What more could you ask for? Movie spoofs and karaoke? It has those too. Most harrowing performance by gingerbread? You betcha! The voicework is spot on and even Eddie Murphy is enjoyable. Great fun is had by all (except Michael Eisner-I'd love to have been a fly on the wall in Eisner's office the morning after this copped the Oscar for Animated Feature). Very entertaining and well worth your time. Most recommended.
My one line summary above can be taken in two different ways. First, it
could be seen as asking, "Is this movie missing something?" Or, it could
also be taken to mean, "Am I missing something?" I'll try to answer it
First of all, let me tell you that I grew up on cartoons. I loved them back when I was a kid and I probably love them even more now. This "Shrek" dreck, on the other hand, shouldn't really be classified as a cartoon. Sure, it's animated. Sure, it isn't live action. But it is to cartoons what digital video (i.e. "Attack of the Clones") is to film. And I don't like that.
So it's a light-hearted comedy with a great message. Right? Everybody I talked to that had seen this movie told me it was great, both for the parents and the kids. I'm neither, but I can appreciate good humor in any form. This movie just plain didn't make me laugh. It didn't make me laugh; it didn't make me think; it didn't make me happy; and it certainly didn't make me glad I spent the time watching it.
Therefore, on all counts, this movie is a complete failure. It's my belief it's missing something (a soul perhaps?); however, it could be that it's just me who, plain and simple, does not "get it."
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