Anthony's Film Review

Shrek (2001)

Delightful animated film with plenty of unexpected surprises and jokes...

There are plenty of things to like about Shrek. In fact, the list is long enough that I would rather talk about that than the plot of the film, which isn't much anyway. The plot simply involves a reclusive ogre named Shrek who, after finding his swamp invaded by fairy tale characters kicked out of Lord Farquaad's kingdom, goes on a quest to save Princess Fiona as part of a deal with Farquaad to get his swamp back. A talking donkey adds fun and humor to the adventure. Overall, it's enough to fill a running time of 90 minutes.

Let's start with the cast. Although today's animated films do tell you which actors provide the voices for the characters, Shrek is perhaps the film to take the trend to a whole new level. Since this movie, DreamWorks animated films began advertising their main voice actors as if the film were a regular live-action film. One can clearly see why. In Shrek, the four main characters have faces based on the facial structures of their respective voice actors. As a result, Shrek looks like Mike Myers (but much fatter), Donkey looks like Eddie Murphy (and vice versa), Princess Fiona looks like Cameron Diaz (if you ignore the hair color difference), and Lord Farquaad looks like John Lithgow (except much shorter).

Shrek is based on a children's book by Willian Steig, who passed away a few years later after the film's release. From what I've heard, Steig enjoyed the movie even with the numerous changes. After all, his book was only a few pages long. This was a chance for the team to add humor for the adult audience. Kids will no doubt enjoy the lovable cartoon characters in the screen. For the adults, the film includes parodies and satire of the fairy tale genre. I enjoyed seeing kung fu fighting with Robin Hood and his Merry Men, torturing the Gingerbread Man in a scene that could actually be a milk commercial, and a situation where a fire-breathing dragon would actually refuse to hurt another. As someone who recommended the film told me, "it makes fun of everything."

But I save the best gag for last. Besides breaking the rules of fairy tales, Shrek also breaks one of the major rules of the business world: any product or service should not have reference to the competition in any way. One of the people at DreamWorks had worked for the Walt Disney Company before quitting due to unsatisfactory conditions. This film pokes fun at the other company not only for the way it's run, but also for being the leader of animation for too long. Pinocchio as well as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs make brief appearances. The most clever gag is also funny but only to some of you. If you've ever been to the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California, and then see this movie, the scene where Shrek enters Lord Farquaad's kingdom would be all too familiar. The kingdom's entrance is nothing but a replica of Disneyland's entrance.

Yes, I like the movie not for its plot but for the numerous ways it surprises us. It's also refreshing to see a non-Disney animated film that lives up to the Disney standard. It's about time we see some variety in the industry so we could hopefully have plenty more good films to watch. At this point, it doesn't matter what happens to Disney business-wise. Even if that company goes down, there's always another to help us smile, and Shrek has the potential to produce a series of quality animated films.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Shrek, visit the Internet Movie Database.

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