Shrek 2: a fairytale sequel

Sure to be the first big hit this summer, Shrek 2 continues to expand the animated horizons and follows up the original film with more fairytale goodness and fresh new characters. Don’t let the fairy tale landscape and the animation deter you — this film is not only for kids.

The landscape of animation changed in 1995 when Disney teamed up with Pixar to reinvent the animation genre that had made them famous. With the release of Toy Story, the animated movie became a star-studded production that spoke to parents as much as it did to kids.

With subtle adult humor for parents, toilet humor for the kids and amazing graphics to bring it together, animated film reemerged as a medium that could, and does, rival live action.

Disney and Pixar may have been responsible in the beginning, but another company soon followed suit, and that is where DreamWorks’ big green ogre Shrek comes in. The original story is about Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) having to rescue princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) with his Donkey (Eddie Murphy).

The film was so well-received it beat out Disney’s Monsters, Inc. for the first-ever Academy Award for an animated feature in 2002.

Shrek 2 may join its predecessor with a win at the Academy Awards, because it not only matches the original; in some respects it emerges as a better film. Turning almost into a Meet the Parents with ogres, Shrek 2 follows Shrek and Fiona to Far Far Away to meet her parents, who are shocked to see their daughter and her new husband as ogres.

The film follows the “beauty is only skin deep” theme that leaves you feeling happy at the end, but gets there with topical humor and fairy-tale spoofing. Back for the second movie are Shrek’s buddies, who include the Gingerbread Man, the three pigs, the blind mice and Pinocchio. These minor characters add some of the funniest moments in the movie, including Pinocchio flying through the air and yelling “I’m a real boy” as he gets hit with Fairy God Mother’s (Jennifer Saunders) wand.

Along with the original cast comes the introduction of a few more characters, none more welcomed than Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). Puss, a witty cat hired to kill Shrek, quickly becomes friends with both Donkey and Shrek.

Puss not only makes you laugh, he invokes the feeling of awe you get when you watch a heroic character. The audience was quick to applaud his feats and even quicker to laugh at his witty lines.

With a bottomless pit of ideas, DreamWorks continues to borrow characters and stories from fairy tales, appealing to kids while at the same time appealing to adults who know the stories well.

Typical of the way animated movies are being made today, Shrek 2 offers some humor that is strictly mature but doesn’t register with the young ones. Present in Toy Story, this technique has worked since the beginning and continues to please a mass audience and not just little kids.

A sound plot and the astounding graphics audiences have come to expect make for a quality animated movie, but the inclusion of humorous lines that moviegoers will still be quoting days after viewing make Shrek 2 an excellent animated film. Shrek 2 is a film that spans all age groups, so don’t be shy — get in line with those little kids and have a good time.

Movies Editor Chris Wagenheim can be reached at