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Shrek
Review written by: Alex Sandell


"I'm telling ye, Donkey, it may feel good, but
bestiality is still illegal!"

What's the story?:

Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), the evil ruler of Duloc, has all of the lovable Fairy Tale creatures we grew up with banished from his kingdom and into a swamp.  The only problem is, the swamp Farquaad has them banished to happens to be home to Shrek (Mike Myers), a loner of an ogre, who doesn't take kindly to fairies floating around in his front yard, and, I'm going out on a limb with this one, flyswatters probably weren't invented yet.  Shrek is unable to tolerate these unique and magical creatures, and visits Farquaad's castle, to set things straight.  Against Shrek's wishes, a tagalong donkey, named Donkey (Eddie Murphy), joins in on the adventure.  Once they arrive at the castle, the oddly matched pair are told by Farquaad that they must rescue Princess Fionna (Cameron Diaz), currently protected by a vicious dragon, so she can be Farquaad's bride.  If they succeed in their mission, Farquaad will remove the fairy tale creatures from the swamp, and Shrek can go back to living his lovely, lonely life.  

So, how is it? (Get to the point, already.)

With Smash Mouth's All Star blaring out of the speakers in all its Dolby Digital glory, and one fart joke or poop joke piled on top of the other, the opening credit sequence of Shrek feels like kiddy catnip.  When this thing is released on video, I have a feeling that the infamous, "don't ever take candy from a stranger" parental warning will be changed to, "don't ever watch the opening credit sequence of Shrek with a stranger, even if he doesn't have any mother fuckin' candy to speak of!"  

The "kidnip" worked like a charm, and in less time than it takes an announcer to tell an audience to, "please refrain from talking during the movie" kids were jumping up and down on their seats, and laughing hysterically over every potty joke that spat its way from the screen and into their under-developed brains.  "What have I gotten myself into?" I asked, as the chubby kid standing up on the seat next to me placed his palms over his lips, blowing through the center, emitting a fake farting noise, then declaring to his parents, as proud as he could be, "I'm Shrek!"   Luckily, the movie gets better.  Unfortunately, the chubby kid standing up in the seat next to me didn't stop with the fart sounds, and told his parents, who must have left the muzzle at home, that he was Shrek, at least 30 times, throughout the film.

Shrek has some big laughs, and a nice message about not judging people on looks.  Still, the movie felt somewhat recycled, especially in the romance department, at the same time that it's trying to make fun of recycled movies.  I also didn't like how the filmmakers, while wanting to teach people that judging someone on outside appearance, rather than on what's on the inside, is bad, kept going against their own message by making fun of Lord Farquaad, who must stand at about Danny DeVito's height, for being short.  This contradicts, and nearly eradicates, the message.  Why didn't they stick to insulting Lord Farquaad for being a jerk, or at least for that terrible haircut (if that wasn't a "Cost Cutters" chop-job, nothing is) he wore?  The height jokes were cheap shots, and, as someone who has never made fun of a midget, I was deeply offended.  At least the cynical writers chose ONE justifiable target to pick on with some valor:  Walt Disney.

I can say from experience that ripping on Disney is always fun, and this movie does it plenty of times.  There is a Disney-ish scene, involving a bird, with results that are not only surprising, but hysterical.  There is also Farquaad's castle, which looks strangely familiar, almost like, say, a Magic Kingdom. Ironically, though, Shrek never reaches the level of humor that Disney's own computer animated masterpieces, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 achieved.  I also don't buy into the plotline, or the characters, as much as I did with the Toy Story movies.  Still, I'm reviewing Shrek, not Toy Story, so I should probably drop it, and appreciate this film for what it is.

In the end, Shrek is a simple movie, but it's a fun one.  If you have any sense of humor, you won't leave the theater disappointed.  This is a "family film" of the highest order, in that both kids and adults will enjoy it.  The rock soundtrack is a bit jarring, but it's a minor quibble in a film that is a slight beam of hope in what is a so far abysmal summer of celluloid crap.  

Shrek makes you feel good.  By the time it was over, I almost shared in the pride that Butterfinger-faced kid had, whenever he said, "I'm Shrek," after blowing "farts" out through the palms of his hand.

What does it make you feel like eating?

Cameron Diaz.  Even animated, this chick is hot.

What are you selling us here???

Lots and lots of crappy rock songs (although putting in a Leonard Cohen tune, even if it is a remake, was absolutely incredible).

If it won an Oscar, what would it be?

"Movie to start making Pixar and Disney sweat" - Shrek

On a scale of 1-10?

8

Agree? Disagree? Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com

Text (Copyright) 2001 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. If you copy this, without my permission, I'll stuff your face full of Butterfingers and then strap you into a muzzle.

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