The final recommendation from the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book following my screening of Toy Story is Dreamworks’ Shrek.
While funny, skewering fairy tales and Disney characters and motiffs with a sly eye, the film hasn’t aged well. Sure the cast is outstanding Mike Myers in the titular role, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, and John Lithgow as the dastardly diminutive Prince Farquad, not everything is enduring.
The biggest fault now visible with the film is the fact that both the music and the dialogue reflect the turn of the century. Filled with one-hit wonders and jargon that was already on its way out when the film debuted, these faults weigh the film down.
Despite those restraints, the film is brilliantly funny as it plays with tropes that we all grew up with. It puts them all on their ear.
Shrek, an ogre, that simply wants to live alone in his swamp soon finds himself inundated with fairy tale refugees as Farquad tries to do away with all magical creatures and beings.
Through a series of mishaps, Shrek ends up on a quest for Farquad, to rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon-guarded castle. Farquad isn’t doing this for something as grand as love. He has been told he needs to marry a princess to become a king; he’s after power.
Unfortunately, Fiona has a secret, and on their journey together, Shrek and Fiona begin to develop feelings for one another. Soon, the ogre finds himself in his own version of a fairy tale.
The jokes are funny (the Gingerbread Man sequence is nothing short of brilliant), and there are some aimed at kids, and just as many aimed at adults, and while enjoyably watchable, I kept getting ousted from the film with the music choices (and lets be fair, I do like most of the songs, but they just don’t seem to work in the film anymore), and slang.
The computer generated images that bring the story to life are solid, and almost as detail oriented as Pixar films, bringing the characters to life in an enjoyable fashion.
The film is filled with lots of nods and homages not only to classic Disney films, but films of the time as well (it seems every film was doing a Matrix nod). Not all of them work as well anymore – but the Disney ones definitely endure.
Shrek remains fun family fare, even if it’s a little dated.