“Hilarious, irreverent digitally-animated fable from the makers of Antz. A Scottish ogre, a talking donkey, a midget tyrant, a princess with a secret and a whole raft of fairy-tale characters poke fun at uptightness and dole out liberalism.”
Shrek!! The highly indulgent topic of cinematic conversation ever since its release during late 2001. Well, impressed by its popularity I decided to take a look!! In due course, I was not disappointed!!
Based in modest moderation on William Steig’s book about a giant green ogre, this irreverent and absorbing computer-animated fairy tale is aimed as much at children as their parents.
From the start, tradition is acknowledged as well as mocked. The execution of both is masterly. Opening with a “Once upon a time” story narrated over the turning leaves of an illustrated book, the pages are abruptly torn away to be used as toilet paper by the mischievous Shrek.
The tone for a highly entertaining adventure has been set for the audience.
The flatulent ogre then bathes in a nearby mud pool where he delights in blowing fart bubbles to the surface. So, far tradition is being turned on its head!
Shrek is the Yiddish word for fear. I don’t know what the Yiddish word for ‘lovable’ is, but that would have been more appropriate! Shrek tries his best, but he’s more cuddly than scary. This can be clearly seen in parts of the movie, which leads to the audience seeing new/interesting sides.
Mike Myers’ Scottish brogue makes Shrek more endearing and adds another dimension to the movie.
Mike Myers in a more familiar role of Austin Powers.
The giant green ogre certainly doesn’t intimidate the irrepressible and wise cracking Donkey (a character that accurately incorporates verbal diarrhoea, brought to life by an inspired Eddie Murphy, who imposes himself as the reluctant Shrek’s sidekick after fleeing from the evil ruler Lord Farquaad.
The diminutive and dastardly Farquaad, voiced malignantly and masterly by John Lithgow, who has banished all the fairy tale characters from his kingdom of Duloc, including the Three Blind Mice, Pinocchio and Donkey. Whereupon they seek refuge at the home of the reclusive and sceptical Shrek, this despite the prominent ‘Beware of the Ogre’ sign.
Anxious to be rid of the intruders, Shrek pleads to Farquaad for their removal. The Lord agrees to his request, but this is a fairy tale and so naturally there’s one condition. And again, because it’s a fairy tale, you have to have a princess in there somewhere. But this is no ordinary fairy tale and so when Farquaad has to find a wife to make his kingdom perfect; he picks Princess Fiona (the voice of Cameron Diaz) over two other contestants in a dating game and then gets Shrek to bring her back.
The ‘Dreamworks’ team behind Shrek take obvious delight in mocking their Disney rivals with Farquaad’s perfect kingdom bearing more than a passing resemblance to a certain other magic kingdom. Shrek enjoys feisty and addictive humour found in other recent animated films like Aladdin. The magic and charm of this genre is being able to plunder inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, enabling such moments as an aerial fighting sequence from The Matrix.
It’s while indulging itself with such gags that Shrek is at its best, as when the ogre inflates a hapless frog into a balloon as a gift for Princess Fiona, who in return snatches an unsuspecting snake from a tree, blows it up and twists it balloon-style into a dog. The styles of a princess and an ogre, at this point are equally amusing. Another example of a fairy tale with a slant. An encounter with Robin Hood and his merry men also gives an original slant when they break into a Riverdance routine. Comedy, it seems can only be restrained by rules. This production is clearly as amusing for the animators as the results are for the audience.
Shrek’s frivolity extends to its soundtrack which is a refreshing change from the generic tunes that burden most animated films. Its collection of pop songs includes tracks by Smash Mouth, The Proclaimers, Maroon 5 and climaxes with Donkey leading a chorus of characters in a rendition of I’m A Believer.
As with all good fairy tales Shrek is built solidly around a moral, the message being to focus not on appearances but inner beauty, but that is secondary to the film’s main concern which is to make you laugh, and you do. Loudly and often, believe me!