Shrek (2001)

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Shrek (2001)

Kevin:

I don’t know about you, but onions make me cry.

DreamWorks’ second attempt at computer animation in Shrek is an utter and miserable disaster. Filled with genuinely funny side characters taken from well-known fairytales, such as the three blind mice, Pinocchio, and the gingerbread man, DreamWorks decides to feature an obnoxious, irritating Eddie Murphy talking donkey instead for laughs. What fairytale is he from?!?

Shrek embodies the singular, most fundamental problem I have with the studio: they are unable to write outcast characters from an outside perspective. Shrek is a selfish, mean, ugly ogre to, well, almost everybody within the screenplay, and for DreamWorks, the only way to portray this is by having Shrek be a selfish, mean, ugly ogre. How am I ever supposed to like these characters if DreamWorks doesn’t even like their own characters?

I think anybody who agreed with this film’s 2001 Best Animated Feature Oscar award (over Monsters, Inc., no less) must ask themselves: Did you like Shrek because it was funny? Did you like Shrek because it had Fiona turn into an ogre instead of having Shrek turn into prince charming? In other words, did you like Shrek because it went places you didn’t think Beauty and the Beast went?

The problem is, Shrek doesn’t even begin to surface any of the depth Beauty and the Beast explores. The only reason why Fiona likes Shrek is because she herself is half ogre. I’m fully convinced if she was 100% human, nobody would have believed Fiona’s fast turn around for the movie’s repulsive title character (within a day and in montage form). In fact, the most touching moment occurs between Fiona and Donkey, not Fiona and Shrek. Beauty and the Beast accomplishes exactly what Shrek should have tried to accomplish. Belle is 100% outcast, 100% likeable, 100% human, 100% beautiful, and still falls in love with the Beast. And I believed it.

Comparing any movie to the masterpiece that is Beauty and the Beast is almost unfair, but Shrek demands it since it tries so darn hard to undermine the Disney formula at every opportunity it gets. But with such reckless interpretations and no regard for the genre it is parodying, it only serves to highlight everything that doesn’t work in Shrek. Shrek claims to have many layers, but I found the movie to ring shockingly hollow.

Verdict: Overrated

Favorite moment: A bird explodes trying to keep up with Fiona’s high notes. Now that was actually hilarious.

Dan:

Huh? Did we watch the same movie? Maybe THIS is the movie we should do our next podcast on, Kevin.

Because, as far as I’m concerned, Shrek is just as good as its billing, a movie that manages to be a) often hysterically funny, b) adventurous and engaging, c) well-written and emotive, and d) extremely fresh and influential. Granted, point D has faded over time as DreamWorks has refined its approach to an obvious formula, but that can’t change how new and fantastic Shrek felt when it first came out (and, at its best moments, still feels).

First, I identified quite a bit with Shrek. In a world of self-absorbed princes and fairy tales gone sour, Shrek would rather keep to himself and enjoy his unremarkable life. So many of the best jokes deal with the bitter but normal-minded Shrek battling the absurdity of the fairy tale tropes with his no-bullshit attitude.

And it’s not strictly a joke — in a world of make-believe, Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey each feel like real, fleshed-out characters with genuine arcs that play out organically over the course of the screenplay. (If only DreamWorks would routinely use THAT aspect of Shrek in its CGI franchise formula.)

The movie is also rightly famous for its sense of parody. Some of the most memorable scenes involve the writers riffing off of Disney parodies, both in a broad sense — mocking the effervescent, upbeat nature of Disney’s attitude — and in a specific sense — spoofing specific beats and lines to great effect.

If Mike Myers’ rants and Eddie Murphy’s equally engaging asides are not enough of a platform for a movie, we have the adventure that serves as the plot. The over-compensating Lord Farquad sends Shrek to go rescue a princess for him. As Shrek does so (and bonds with the princess), we see another side to his coarseness, and we cheer for him to overcome his instincts and connect with Fiona.

Sure, Fiona’s secret of being an ogre is a bit contrived. But doesn’t that ending — that moment of encouragement for all of us to embrace our inner ogres — give you the chills at least a little bit?

If your name isn’t Kevin, then it probably does.

Verdict: Properly rated

Favorite moment: Shrek’s onion rant

Final Grade: F (58%)—Ugly.

For the full article: http://earnthis.net/animation-evaluation-dreamworks-1998-2006/

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13 thoughts on “Shrek (2001)

  1. I am with Dan with this one on overall, but I do agree with some of Kevin’s points too.

    I thought Shrek was a good character, but as you go through each film, he goes over the same lessons over and over again. Fiona is a good character to me though, and Donky is a horrible deuteragonist because he does not have a story.

    This film has not aged the best, and not many speak about it anymore, and the jokes are hit or miss. Monsters Inc deserved the award over Shrek.

    This film did some permanent damage to Disney, as it is now popular to make fun of the studio and the DP films.

    • Yeah, even Disney has made fun of their DP films (Enchanted, and Frozen to an extent). It’s been stereotyped so heavily that the jokes have this universal appeal to them nowadays. I just wish Shrek wasn’t so cruel about it. I think it gets more light-hearted as the series moves on.

  2. Haven’t watched this movie in years, so can’t comment. I have two inquiries:
    1. What are your thoughts on “The Prince of Egypt”, if you’ve seen it?
    2. Have you seen “Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life”? It’s a video on YouTube about what happens when Shrek comes into a fan’s room. ……….view at your own risk.

    • Haven’t seen The Prince of Egypt. Do you recommend that I see it?

      I have (unfortunately) seen the Shrek is Love, Shrek is Life video. I have no idea why anybody would make that video lol

      • Prince of Egypt is a biblical epic, basically, and considering your religious stance, it may or may not be for you. I haven’t seen it in a while, either, but I really liked it, and would probably recommend it.

        I am on your boat in regetting seeing that video. And with my band mates constantly quoting it, it just puts images in my brain that I’m trying hard to forget.

      • I liked Aronofsky’s Noah (2014), which may be because I just really like Aronofsky, but I definitely need to watch more biblical epics to form my stance on them as a sub-genre. For example, I don’t like horror movies in general, but have liked some (Cabin in the Woods is my favorite, thus far). I hope my atheism won’t get in the way from enjoying an entire genre of movies, but I’ll give Prince of Egypt a shot since you like it 🙂 Maybe I’ll give it a requested review, if I have a strong reaction to it.

  3. I’m with Kevin – I loved Shrek when it was released (I think everyone did) but looking back, it’s dated horribly and there’s no way it should have beaten Monsters, Inc. My big issue is that its parody feels hateful (which makes sense when you know the anti Disney company history) – if you’re going to parody something, you need to love the material first. Shrek doesn’t get that.

    I don’t think it helped that Dreamsworks ran the series into the ground with a million awful sequels too.

    • Hey Carl! Thanks for commenting! Shrek has definitely been met with more criticism as time has passed, but even as a kid, I found something off-putting about Shrek. Perhaps I just wasn’t old enough yet to get all the adult jokes which made other people love it at the time. I agree with your stance on parody. And although I don’t think Shrek 2 is all too bad, Shrek 3 and Shrek 4 are pretty miserable.

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