> Volume 6 > Number 20


Andrew Adamson
Kelly Asbury
Conrad Vernon

Mike Myers
Cameron Diaz
Eddie Murphy
Antonio Banderas
Jennifer Saunders
Rupert Everett
John Cleese
Julie Andrews

Release: 19 May 04

Shrek 2


A cornucopia of faux Medieval product placement and in-jokes, Shrek 2 surprises by investing far more in strengthening its sketch comedy than its overall story. While this might not create the most riveting film of the year, nor create much of a groundswell of interest in seeing any of these characters again, it certainly makes this return stroll through the revisionist fairy tale land of Shrek more amenable and enjoyable this time around. Although Shrek was a pleasant film, it almost seemed intoxicated by itself, as if ripping of fables and questioning the morals in their finales was a new achievement (ahem, The Princess Bride did it before, and did it better).

Shrek 2 doesn’t sit on its laurels the same way. Where a self-importance streamed through the fart jokes (of which there are still far too many in the sequel), this follow-up seems more heady and delirious. The laughs stream through the work with the comic timing of some of the better Saturday Night Live skits over the years, and the final impression is left by the jokes that work, not those that fail.

Unlike in Shrek, the screenwriters here abandon much of the moralizing for the pat finale (no John Cale’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” montage here). What remains are the secondary characters, nearly all of whom – from Pinocchio to the Three Blind Mice – are much more interesting that three leads. Though many of the characters were window dressing the first time around, their embellishment now is joined by the introduction of Puss in Boots (voiced by an amazingly game Banderas – the best vocal work in an animated film since Kelsey Grammer in Toy Story 2) and the Fairy Godmother (Saunders; turning her beloved intoxicated Absolutely Fabulous character into a conniving but prim lady).

Even if the first two-thirds only register a few genuine laughs, the finale is such a convoluted series of wonderful segments that, as the Fairy Godmother breaks into an outstanding performance of Flashdance’s “I Need a Hero” and Shrek’s finest comedian the Ginger Bread Man upstages the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man, all sins of the first half of Shrek 2 as well as Shrek in its entirety are quickly forgotten

©2004, David Perry,, 14 May 2004