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Shrek 2: Mark's Take

01/06/2004. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Shrek 2 in the USA - or Buy Shrek 2 in the UK

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There is distinctly less magic and fun in Shrek 2 as the title ogre has problems becoming accepted by his in-laws. All the same cast is back with the same voices, but the tone of the film is darker and we don't learn a lot more about the characters that we liked in the first film.

CAPSULE: One new character is engaging, but overall we just know these characters too well from the first film. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) or 6/10

If there had not been a SHREK, then SHREK 2 would have been a better film. Much of the novelty of this world has fallen off the production. The fun of for the first time meeting Shrek and especially Donkey are gone. Donkey is a good character, but he has a smaller role in this film where he is not really important to the plot and he gets fewer good lines.

Shrek 2 Film Review

Eddie Murphy is probably not allowed to suddenly ad-lib something like a sudden fixation on parfaits. This film does, however, introduce us to Puss-in-Boots, and Puss is a good character but not as funny as Donkey was when we met him. In the first film the story was set in a fairy tale world that is far, far away and an ogre is rescuing a princess.

That works for me. SHREK 2 is set mostly in what Fiona calls the Land of Far, Far Away, but it is basically in a place a lot like Hollywood. In this land Shrek has problems with his in-laws. So who needs to enter the world of fairy tales to have a comedy about someone having in-law problems in Hollywood?

Somehow we invested more interest in wondering if the lead couple would get together than we ever could in whether they will stay together. If they break up it will be largely their own fault for not valuing each other's love enough.

So in the transition to the second film a little of the magic leaked out just in having the ogres start out already married. A little more leaked out when the jokes were toned down just a bit. Or perhaps the writers were just not as creative this time around. Also, this film just seems a little darker in tone. As the film opens Shrek (voiced by Michael Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have accepted themselves as ogres.

Then they get a command to visit Fiona's parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews). King Harold never expected to have an ogre for a son-in-law or for a daughter either, for that matter. He begins to plot against the marriage with the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and her son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). Along the way we get a new character, a charming swashbuckling rogue, Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas) who mixes in a little of his former role as El Zorro.

The little digs at Walt Disney's animated fairy tales and the popular media in general somehow seemed a lot funnier in the original. Perhaps part is that they are expected now so the element of surprise is lost. I do not know what they were looking for in the source music songs in this film, but they did not find it.

The songs in the first film were somehow instantly likable. The choice of songs this time around seems pallid and drab. If I hear the same songs again on the radio I will probably not even remember that I have heard them before.

At the end of SHREK 2 we are just about where we were at the beginning of SHREK 2, but an hour and a half have been spent at least pleasantly. I might well have enjoyed myself watching SHREK for the nth time as much as watching SHREK 2 for the first time.

Perhaps what we need next is a film about Donkey. Eddie, if they offer you I SPY II, go for DONKEY: THE MOVIE instead. I would rate SHREK 2 a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 6/10.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2004 Mark R. Leeper

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