Length: 93 minutes
Release Date: May 19, 2004
Directed by: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Genre: Animation | Adventure | Comedy
“Shrek 2,” the sequel to 2001’s breakout hit “Shrek,” continues the adventures of Shrek, Fiona and Donkey as they face their biggest challenge yet. Shrek and Fiona, who have been living together happily in Shrek’s swamp home, are summoned to the kingdom of Far, Far Away to meet Fiona’s parents. King Harold and Queen Lillian are, of course, none too happy to have an ogre as a son-in-law.
“Shrek 2” is both the highest-grossing film of 2004 and Dreamworks’ most successful film, and its modern, hilarious twist on familiar fairytale characters makes it instantly endearing to both children and adults. However, it lacks some of the charm and originality of the first “Shrek” film, and finds itself repeating plot lines that the original movie had satisfactorily resolved.
“Shrek 2” begins with Shrek and Fiona happily married and living together in Shrek’s swamp. When this news reaches Fiona’s parents, King Harold and Queen Lillian of Far, Far Away, the king and queen naturally invite their daughter and her new husband to visit them at the castle, going so far as to throw a royal ball in their honor. King Harold and Queen Lillian don’t know that Fiona has married an ogre, nor are they aware that Fiona is also now an ogre herself.
When Shrek, Fiona, and the ever-game Donkey arrive at Far, Far Away, Fiona’s parents aren’t happy to see two ogres emerge in place of the beautiful daughter and handsome prince they expected, and they aren’t the only people displeased. Fairy Godmother had made an agreement with King Harold that Fiona would marry her son, Prince Charming. Fairy Godmother and King Harold decide to hire an assassin, Puss in Boots, to kill Shrek so Fiona will be free to marry her prince.
Meanwhile, Shrek finds Fiona’s old diary, in which she confesses her crush on Prince Charming. Shrek feels bad that he’s an ogre and not a prince, so he and Donkey steal Fairy Godmother’s “Happily Ever After” potion, which turns Shrek into a handsome prince and Donkey into a beautiful stallion. This potion also turns Fiona back into her human form. If Shrek can kiss Fiona by midnight, the potion’s effects become permanent. Familiar characters from the first “Shrek” film, including Gingerbread Man, the Big Bad Wolf and Magic Mirror, all return to help Shrek achieve his goal.
“Shrek 2” is as tightly and elegantly constructed as the original “Shrek” film. It contains numerous references, quips and in-jokes that are still relevant and hilarious even a decade after the film’s release. The jokes are so densely packed that a viewer is unlikely to catch them all at once, and the film is designed for both children and adults to watch over and over again.
The fantastic voice cast, which includes Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett and Jennifer Saunders, helps “Shrek 2” stand out from other animated films. Each actor is a master of comedy and timing, and they work together to bring the unforgettable characters of the “Shrek” world to life.
If the film has a flaw, it’s that it relies too much on the same “ogre vs. prince” conflict that was sufficiently resolved in the original “Shrek.” During the first “Shrek” film, Princess Fiona learns that beauty comes from within and an ogre can be as handsome as a prince. She also becomes an ogre herself and appears very happy with her decision.
“Shrek 2,” however, undercuts that decision by asking Shrek and Fiona to choose once again whether they want to live as ugly ogres or beautiful humans. The film’s characters and its audience must re-learn the “beauty comes from within” lesson that was sufficiently resolved in the first film. It is unfortunate the primary plot in “Shrek 2” echoes so closely the plot of the first “Shrek.”
This doesn’t mean that “Shrek 2” is a bad film. It remains a joy to watch and is one of the essential films in the Dreamworks canon. The characters are engaging and memorable , and the quips and catchphrases stick with viewers long after the film ends. It’s a film that both children and adults are likely to enjoy for years to come.
“Shrek 2” holds up to a rewatch even a decade after its first release. The original “Shrek” film is still the strongest and best of the “Shrek” series, but “Shrek 2” stands on its own merits. The excellent animation, top-level voice cast and rapid-fire writing makes it a fun watch for viewers of all ages.
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