Shrek (Michael Myers) is an ogre who lives in a swamp by himself. He wants to be by himself because he is very insecure about his looks and the way he's perceived. Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Farquaad, many of the fairy tale characters that we all know and love including the three little pigs, the big bad wolf, fairies, the three bears and snow white are being banished. On the roster to be banished is one talking donkey by the name of....well, Donkey (Eddie Murphy). Donkey becomes a sweet and hilarious thorn in the side of Shrek. While eating, Shrek is horrified when his swamp is disturbed by the banished fairytale creatures, at the hands of Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Shrek learns that in order to get his swamp back, he has to talk to Lord Farquaad. Meanwhile, Farquaad keeps one treasured fairytale item, the magic mirror from Snow White, for himself. He uses it to find himself a princess. The dialogue between he and the mirror is hilarious because it switches to an episode of the dating game with the mirror giving him three choices: Cinderella, Snow "She lives with seven men, but she's not easy" White and Princess Fiona. The knights in full armor coach the prince to choose princess number three, the lovely Princess Fiona ( Cameron Diaz). Fiona is locked in a tower that is protected by a female dragon. When Shrek finally reaches the kingdom o' Farquaad, he is thrown in a WWF wrestling parody that is hilarious. Recognizing his strength, Lord Farquaad makes a deal with the ogre: get me the girl and I will give you the swamp back. Shrek accepts the deal and begins his journey with Donkey in tow.
Shrek is a very clever film on many levels. It's a fairytale in every sense of the word. Listen to the way the lines are written, the way the characters speak, the way the story flows. The guys at Dream Works did a good job with this in that you could close your eyes and the dialogue flows as though you're having a story read to you. What makes this movie clever is the fact that it's a fairytale that spoofs fairytales. For example, in most fairytales, the prince is a tall, dark, handsome, kind and dashing man that isn't complete until he finds his one true love to give his heart to. Yet Lord Farquaad is very short, sort of pale, not attractive, very evil, and lacking in the dashing department. Even his name is awkward in that he calls himself a lord when he is just a prince. In most fairytales, the princess is a beautiful, fragile, dainty and submissive young lady. That isn't the case with our Princess Fiona. She's an up front talkative young lady that kicks butt in a hilarious Matrix parody. The fairytale characters, unlike their particular stories, are at a dead end. Their stories can't end because they have no where to go.
Shrek is a pure stroke of genius. It's campy for the kids and sarcastic and hilarious for the adults. It has a voice ( which a lot of movies forget to include in the recipe these days ) in that it preaches the age-old adage that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. From a technical aspect, the movie pushes the technological envelope. While watching the film and watching Shrek and the other characters move and frown, I was quickly thrown back to the time I saw Disney's Dinosaurs. You will notice a lot of the same computer animation (deep canvas) used in this movie. As for the voice-over work, the best of the best were assembled. At first, I didn't like Mike Myers' voice or Scottish accent at all. It didn't it fit the look of the ogre that was created or the ogre we know from past fairytales. Then I realized that's what the guys at Dream Works were trying to do. They wanted an ogre that no one knew someone you would have to get to know. Once you get to know him, Shrek is very likable. His story is one that has the power to create sequels and spinoffs. The movie has been in the making for a long time. It was reported that Chris Farley was originally intended to voice the ogre. Never the less it is truly a great movie.
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