Back from their honeymoon, Shrek (Voice of Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are summoned to meet her parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of Far Far Away. Shrek is against the idea, fearing his in-laws will react badly to having an ogre for son in law. Not to mention the now unprepossessing Princess herself. And he's right. On arrival, things go very badly with the older Royals, the King takes out a contract on Shrek with the infamous assassin Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas). And he also enlists the scheming Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) who sets about putting things wrong with a plot that will have Fiona fall in love with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) - her son.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Far Far Away is signposted on a hillside in large, strangely familiar letters, and seems to be a land of tall palm trees, Versarchery shops, Tower of London Records and stretch coaches, a spoofy echo of LaLa Land itself. This is the first whiff of the film's tone after the initial establishment scenes, and it Ogres well for the sequel. Happily, the filmmakers take things further in a story sense, so we are not treading creative water, no matter how wonderfully inventive was the original.
While it's certainly difficult to capture that 'first-time' freshness, Shrek 2 does create its own elements, including a shamelessly manipulative (and unexpected) Puss In Boots from Antonio Banderas, and the deliciously malevolent Jennifer Saunders as the wicked Fairy Godmother. Eddie Murphy's Donkey is demoted somewhat, partly in recognition of the fact that too much more of Donkey would make an ass of the movie.
This time, the romance is more vibrant, with Shrek and Fiona going through the classic routine of confounding the in-laws' expectations - which are the real stumbling block to their happiness ever after, until, of course, the beauty of love informs them.
Engaging and awe-inspiring animation once again elevates Shrek's world to fantastic heights, and the laughs are just as freewheeling as we have come to expect.
Notably, Donkey and Princess Fiona are the only characters with American accents; Shrek's brogue and the Englishness of King, Queen, Prince Charming and the charming Latin sounds of Puss In Boots creates, perhaps subconsciously, a soundscape that blends with the images of a fairy tale world. Whether by accident or design, casting English voices for royalty is smart - and also adds quantitatively to the film's tone. As for Puss In Boots, that's just sheer quirky.
The film's abundant (and sophisticated) sense of humour is recognisable, but the decision to turn Shrek into human form for part of the story is brave - and highly successful, thanks to the creative decisions involved. As a necessary risk for the romantic payoff, it's a clever move. And that's the joy of Shrek - 'clever' is always in the service of the film's best intentions.
Review by Louise Keller:
Surpassing every expectation, Shrek 2 is inspired. The best thing about the film is that we believe and connect with all the characters; each perfectly matched voice somehow just seems to belong. Mike Myers' soft-hearted green ogre; Cameron Diaz' fiercely independent princess, Eddie Murphy's irrepressible Donkey and Antonio Banderas' extraordinary, scene-stealing Latino Puss in Boots. John Cleese and Julie Andrew together are a match made in fantasy-heaven, and who could conceive a superior conniving, conceited Prince Charming as Rupert Everett and Jennifer Saunder's sharp-edged Fairy Godmother? The script is fall-about funny, wonderfully witty and clever to boot (pun intended) - throughout all its musical gags, movie references, one-liners, visual gags and delightfully conceived spoofs that parody Hollywood and fairytales.
Reinforcing its central theme that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Shrek 2 tells its story effortlessly, capturing our imaginations and hearts to such a degree that we psychologically jump out of our seats and become willing participants on the journey. Heart conquers all and you know when the production and animation is of such a standard that we forget we are watching an animated film! We invest heavily with our emotions, and the pay-off is enormous, as we enter the wacky world where fairy tales flip big-time and collide cheerfully with far-fetched fantasy.
Direct from the authoritative storybook of irreverent fairy tales, the story begins during Shrek and Fiona's idyllic honeymoon. Nestled in the picturesque mountains where Red Riding Hood goes door-knocking, it seems like From Here To Eternity as the two green-skinned monsters-in-love frolic in the sand and romance in the verdant forests under the far-away gaze of Tinkerbell. Their newfound marital bliss however, comes to a hasty halt after Shrek carries his smitten bride over the threshold of the swamp they call home. Then they're off on the long trek (with the very funny, but high maintenance Donkey) for the rude royal awakening in the land of Far Far Away. (The replaced Hollywood sign in the hills overlooking the royal city is a lovely touch, as we are privy to a Tour of the Rich and Famous, passing by castles of fairy-tale celebrities such as Rapunzel and Cinderella.
Brilliantly observed, drawn and executed, feline star character Puss in Boots is more than a whisker of a master-stroke. Antonio Banderas' casting and mischievous delivery bring some of the film's most purrfect and hilarious moments. Picture a confident, furry swashbuckler not at all too big for his boots, comfortable with both 'take-it-or-leave-it' or big-eyed, bewildered, apologetic expression with oversize pupils.
There are so many highlights - this is the kind of film you can see over and over again. Need cheering up? Want to laugh? Feel like a jolt in the direction of the absurd? Happiness may only be a teardrop away, but why shed a tear when Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss beckon?
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DAVID LIPMAN INTERVIEW
SHREK 2 (PG)
VOICES: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banders, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders
PRODUCER: Aron Warner, David Lipman, John H. Williams
DIRECTOR: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
SCRIPT: Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman, J. David. Stem & David N. Weiss (novel by William Steig)
EDITOR: Michael Andrews, Sim Evan-Jones
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Guillaume Aretos
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 17, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.