“Fire up the ovens, Muffin Man! We got a big order to fill!”
Released three years almost to the date after Shrek, Shrek 2 (May 19, 2004) is a remarkably successful follow-up to the blockbuster DreamWorks film. It remains in the top ten highest grossing animated films of all time and the top ranking of the Shrek features. The 105 minutes really fly by in this film full of familiar Shrek-ish humor, shocking reveals, and awesome character intros “I’m sorry, but the position of annoying talking animal has already been filled.”
Of course, everyone was not happy with the premise or the final product—some, such as the Oscar nominated screenwriters of the first film, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, being unhappy with the direction of the plot veering away from a traditional fairytale. The film got good reviews overall and has a higher fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes than the first (by 1%) but if you read the reviews, the majority contend that while the film is good in its own right, it lacks some ineffable quality that exists in the first Shrek.
Regardless, it was certainly a triumph for DreamWorks and solidified Shrek as a fertile franchise for the next decade and beyond. They followed up the films with Shrek the Third, Shrek Forever After and short films Shrek 4-D, Scared Shrekless and Shrek the Halls, not to mention the surprisingly good 2011 spinoff Puss in Boots, a Broadway adaptation of Shrek and endless merchandising.
There is definitely heart in the second film, if not the magical spark of the first. Shrek and Fiona’s genuine love is refreshing in our superficial culture, but I am still disappointed every time they turn back into ogres (what’s wrong with me?) Puss is a sweet character and a purr-fect addition to the Shrek universe.
“Look at him in his wee little boots! How many cats can wear boots?”
“I say we neuter him right here with his sword. Give him the Bob Barker treatment.”
Donkey as a stallion is hysterical and Shrek as a hottie is something that almost had to happen for us to fully accept Fiona’s decision to be an ogre. At an early test screening, a child asked director Andrew Adamson what animal Dragon turned into for the 24 hour spell and Adamson answered a Pegasus. (I wish we could have seen that! Perfect easter-egg fodder if you ask me!) Apparently, this sort of concern from screeners as to a lack of Dragon in the film is why she was made to appear at the end with their hybrid children.
As with all the Shrek films, there’s lots of adult humor, fart jokes, pop culture references and other clever insertions. Some I love include the newscast of Donkey and Shrek running from the law broadcasting, “White Bronco heading east,” a shot of Shrek getting maced by a pepper grinder, Puss saying “I hate Mondays,” and Princess Fiona dragging “Ariel” back into the ocean for getting a little too close to Shrek. The way Hook plays piano is cool, too, and reminded me of how Hook sings in the new Pirate Fairy film from Disney. Hmmm.
If you haven’t seen this film in a while, check it out. It’s well done—clever, cute and charming. Oh, by the way, Prince Charming is awesome in this film as well!