"Fractured Fairy Tale"
What You Need To Know:
SHREK is thoroughly enjoyable on nearly every level. The script is very funny, although it crosses the line in good taste a little bit a couple times or so. Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy as a talkative donkey make a delightful comic team. John Lithgow as the evil king, and Cameron Diaz as the princess add a lot to this mix. In fact, the story of SHREK turns out to be quite a sweet, heartwarming morality tale about learning to love and be loved and looking beyond outward appearances to the inner beauty inside. The animation in SHREK is also superb. Not even a few PG elements can spoil all the fun.
(BB, C, PC, O, L, V, M) Moral worldview about looking past people’s outward appearance & about fighting tyranny, with a priest performing a wedding ceremony, plus a couple minor negative elements such as a possible politically correct subtext about oppressed “minorities” (see review) (including a jab at the “rigid” structure of Disneyland, the amusement park) & an occult spell has been cast upon a person but the movie uses this occult element as a fairytale device to set up the story’s positive moral conflicts & positive moral messages; 4 or 5 mostly mild obscenities & profanities, plus creature passes gas & protagonist makes comment that can be taken as a sexual double entendre, but does not have to be; cartoon violence, mostly done in a comical manner, such as protagonist fights soldiers, hero battles scary fire-breathing dragon to rescue princess & monster gobbles up one person; no sex but kissing & romance; no human nudity but ogre bathes in mud; no alcohol use; no smoking; and, surly attitudes, “discrimination” against social “misfits” rebuked in what may seem like some to be a slightly politically correct fashion & tyranny rebuked.
SHREK is a beautifully animated, very funny fractured fairy tale from DreamWorks. Although it has a few minor negative elements that parents and people of biblical faith should note, SHREK is fashioned in the spirit of such great animated classics as the TOY STORY movies, ALADDIN and ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE. It also may remind some people of Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND. As such, it is an extremely entertaining, well-written movie designed to please all ages.
Comic actor Mike Myers of the less-than admirable AUSTIN POWERS and WAYNE’S WORLD movies, plays the title role, a green, smelly ogre with a bad disposition. Hated and misunderstood by the human townspeople around him, Shrek is perfectly happy living alone in the woods in his own little cabin. He also likes to take mud showers. When King Farquaad, the local tyrant, banishes all fairy tale people, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to Shrek’s swamp, Shrek decides to fight back.
Befriended by a wise-cracking, annoying talking donkey, played by Eddie Murphy, Shrek confronts the king, who’s played by John Lithgow. Neat, orderly and power hungry (but very short in stature), King Farquaad figures that all he needs to become the perfect king is to marry the perfect princess. He settles upon Princess Fiona, who’s trapped in a tower guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. The King can’t be bothered with the dirty work of saving the princess himself, so he agrees to remove the fairy tale people from Shrek’s swamp, if Shrek will save the princess himself. Unaware of the King’s plans, Shrek agrees to rescue the princess, who’s played by Cameron Diaz of THE MASK. Little does Shrek suspect, however, that Princess Fiona packs a punch that will finally soften his heart.
The script for SHREK is very funny, although it crosses the line in good taste a little bit a couple times or so. Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers make a delightful comic team. When Princess Fiona enters the scene, the relationships between the characters deepen rather than become tiring or unwieldy. The story also turns out to be quite a sweet, heartwarming morality tale about learning to love and be loved and looking beyond outward appearances to the inner beauty inside. The story also proves to be very exciting during a wonderful, elaborate chase scene with the dragon.
The animation in SHREK is superb. The folks at DreamWorks have taken computer animation to a new level in their depiction of liquids, fire, clothing, and facial features. As Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, one of the founders of DreamWorks, said at the premiere of the rough cut which MOVIEGUIDE® attended in Los Angeles, the computer animation in SHREK will be state of the art “for 14 seconds,” which tells you how quickly he thinks the technology is changing in that field.
MOVIEGUIDE® only has a couple quibbles with the rough cut that we previewed recently. First, there are a few obscenities and profanities, but they are mostly mild. There are also a couple off-color jokes. One of them is a comment about the King’s short height. This joke can be taken as a double entendre, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if a viewer has a childlike, relatively clean mental attitude. Furthermore, although the movie has a good primary message about love and acceptance, its tale of a couple of misfits who become heroes has a possible politically correct subtext that fits with society’s perverted fascination with the identity politics of the left. For example, the townspeople are afraid of Shrek because he’s different, which sets up all sorts of possible comparisons to the debate raging over sexual “orientation.” This subtext is barely noticeable, but it deserves a caution just in case it proves to be stronger on multiple viewings of SHREK and just in case the filmmakers decide to strengthen such objectionable messages in their final cut. Those who don’t share this persuasion, however, still have a lot to really like in SHREK, especially if they focus instead on the eternal truths and verities in the story and the fresh, delightful way in which it’s put together.
Thus, in spite of the PG level of a few of its many parts, SHREK is thoroughly enjoyable on nearly every level. Only time, and the final cut, will tell if it truly manages to attain the entertainment, artistic level of the animated classics of the 1990s. Until then, it remains one of the very few bright spots in what has been a dismal movie year so far.