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