Is it possible for a production company to crank out a cartoon fable without having it whitewashed with Disney’s fairy-tale idiom? Shrek goes a long way in taking jabs at Disney’s totalitarian control of the fairy-tale genre and, for the most part, succeeds. Shrek is a film about the ostracized fairy-tale community and how an ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) saves a princess named Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from captivity in order to get the fairy-tale squatters off of his swamp territory. Prince Farquaad (John Lithgow) is the tyrant who promises Shrek his land if the loveable ogre can save his future bride. Judging by the film’s repeated references to Farquaad’s shortcomings and the unique pronunciation of his name, it’s easy to see why many assume that Farquaad has been modeled after Michael Eisner. Prince Farquaad has asked the denizens of his kingdom to capture any and all fairy-tale characters and bring them to him for monetary compensation. Strapped for cash, Geppeto forks over Pinocchio to the Prince’s guards and the wooden boy screams, “But I’m a real boy!” Pinocchio’s nose grows to its full length and the puppet is subsequently taken away. It’s the film’s greatest sight gag, topped only by a cute scene where Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man. A refugee donkey (Eddie Murphy) befriends Shrek and joins the ogre on his mission to save Fiona from a castle guarded by a ferocious yet horny fire-breathing dragon. She is surprised that her savior doesn’t resemble Prince Charming though her expectations are less elitist than grounded in rituals of self-loathing (see her final revelation). That Fiona is forced to deal with these issues and that that the film subverts myths and expectations concerning the Disneyfied fairy-tale genre is the film’s greatest asset. It’s a shame then that the rest of Shrek amounts to little more than a string of shit and fart jokes while the constant Farquaad jokes seem nasty, deliberate and contradictory to the film’s message of hope and acceptance. Hoping to keep things interesting for those with short attention spans, DreamWorks has inundated Shrek is riddled with pop-culture references and a dorky pop songs. Shrek purports to have edge but it has no soul.
- Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
- Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S. H. Schulman
- Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
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