Posted: February 28, 2004
For all of its digs at Disney cartoons, "Shrek" may have been the most refreshing and original movie to hit theaters in 2001.
Yes, it does take some well-earned potshots at Disney icons, and I think I noticed a few nods to "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and even "Citizen Kane." But what "Shrek" most resembles--in spirit--are the irreverent "Fractured Fairy Tales" that Jay Ward produced for TV. Like those classics, "Shrek" is kind enough to (a) use its satire as throwaway gags, rather than loudly calling attention to its genius, and (b) assume, like all the best cartoons, that both adults and children can enjoy a well-made, hilarious animated movie.
The story has great fun with turning fairy-tale conventions on its head, starting with the "Once upon a time" tale which the ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) reads so sweetly and then ends up using as...well, perhaps I shouldn't say it here. Suffice to say, the movie turns a lot of cliches about love's first kiss inside out by way of demonstrating that, by golly, true love really can come to those who wait, even ogres.
In the meantime, Shrek acquires a sidekick (a donkey with the voice of Eddie Murphy) who himself is enough of a wink at Disney cliches, in that he is actually funny and has a personality. Shrek and the donkey save an imprisoned princess (Cameron Diaz), and that would be enough story for most cartoons right there. But by the time the princess is saved, the movie is only one-third finished, and the princess is an original enough character to be annoyed at the manner of her rescue.
And that is the charm of "Shrek," because just when it seems to follow familiar paths, you find that the movie's makers have quite a few surprises to unfurl. Like the best animated films. "Shrek" has densely filled landscapes, characters, and plot twists that make most of its live-action movie competitors look puny in comparison.
Kudos are richly deserved all around, from the great voice actors (including John Lithgow as a snotty and diminutive prince), to skillful directors Vicki Jenson and Andrew Adamson (never is a shot too lingering or too short), to the gifted writers who adapted the original children's book--and to DreamWorks Pictures, which had tried hard in previous years to be a contender and pretender to the Disney throne. This time, they succeeded.
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Posted: February 27, 2004
Making fun of Disney and the classic fairy tales a
This movie is pretty much a comedy, but fortunately Dreamworks crew managed to keep the story together even though it is tightly packed with jokes and parody. The story works quite well, and is kinda touching. Cannot really tell more about it without spoiling the movie.
Those who have seen Disney's Snow White and Seven Dwarfs (1937) will notice one particularly funny reference to it (or to Disney animations in general). Look for it as Fiona goes singing in the morning... :)
Another interesting detail - mentioned in the commentary track that comes on the DVD - is that we actually hear Cameron Diaz belching and that it was the real thing (and not acting for the movie).
The visual quality was something .. Well, astonishing, in 2001. Full CG with nice fluid dynamics, good matte rendering, rich nature, realistic looking skin, etc. (the shadow-maps were bad though and really looked bad at some parts).
A movie that truely can be recommended for people of all ages and definitely not just kids.
If you wish for something less comic and more serious, try Fox's Anastasia (but you'll want to see both anyway).
For more of similar stuff to Shrek, see Ice Age.
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Posted: November 03, 2003
Great, but not classic...
This is great production by Dreamworks. It seems that digital cartoons are gaining more and more fans nowadays and 'Shrek' is an additional reason for that. The characters are wonderful, and the story very interesting. I think Edie Murphy is great in lending his voise to cartoon characters (considering his role in 'Mulan' as Mushu, beside this one). But still, the movie is more of a parody of other productions, rather than an original cartoon movie. That's why -in my opinion- it won't be a classic.
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