Once upon a time there was a big animation company who churned out film after film filled with fairytale plots and cheeky animal sidekicks. King Disney held sway over the land for what seemed like an eternity, but then new challengers for the throne began to emerge...
Now it will take some serious ass-kicking to topple Disney as master of family friendly animation, but why bother when you can make films like 'Shrek'. Dreamworks have very wisely steered away from the saccharine sweet mentality that often plagued the mouse house, instead producing something with a little more ‘kick’ (for a family film anyway).
‘Shrek’ is the tale of a grumpy hermit ogre just trying to get rid of a bunch of vagrants who have moved in to live on his land. The only thing is, these vagrants are entirely made up of fairytale creatures, blind mice and little pigs (both numbering three) to name only two. So Shrek trudges off to the diminutive King Farquaad, accepting a deal to rescue a princess in order to get his land back. Now hands up who thinks things will go that simply?
The Princess in question is Cameron Diaz. Not just the voice, but she looks almost identical, and seems to have been plucked straight out of Charlie’s Angels, far from the helpless damsel in distress you’d normally find locked in a distant tower. No wonder our ogre friend falls for her, however he has issues with being a big green slob and thinks he could never attract anyone as beautiful as the princess. But this is the movies and not real life; so of course she falls in love with him instead of spurning him and wanting to be ‘just friends’. If it seems like I’m spoiling things for you, well it’s not like you couldn’t have worked that out for yourself.
Of course no animated film seems to be complete without a buddy comedy element. In this respect the film excels. An over-enthusiastic and friendly donkey, named, errrr ‘Donkey’ joins Shrek on his travels. Voiced by Eddie Murphy, but don’t let that put you off; he proves he can actually be funny provided he is alongside a fat man rather than being one, or when he is an animal rather than talking to them. I always said the man was an ass… (Sorry).
Plot aside, this film looks fantastic and the soundtrack is excellent. It’s filled with jokes that the younger audience members (i.e. screaming brats) will completely miss and would never understand even if they did catch. Add to that the sly pokes at Disney who the head of Dreamworks used to work for; purely coincidental I’m sure...
You can’t really go too wrong with this film, it’s funny, feelgood and fabulous to look at. There may be one or two slightly mushy scenes that make you think you’re watching Disney, but what Disney film begins with a character on the toilet and just gets better from there?
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