A review of “Shrek 2” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: PG for mild adult suggestion and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

 

 

A sparkling script and a plethora of inside jokes create a clever foundation for a successful sequel to the original smash hit.

The old gang’s voices are on board for this conjugal comedy, the ubiquitous After to the fantasy’s Happily Ever After.  Shrek (Mike Myers) and his Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are living in a suspended state of matrimonial joy – joined at the hip at Hansel’s Honeymoon Hideaway and reveling in their newly-wedded bliss.  Love has smoothed the rough edges of Shrek’s emotional shell, rendering the new Prince downright cuddly.

But meddling in-laws and that pesky ass of a sidekick (Eddie Murphy as Donkey) will see to it that nothing is easy for the mismatched newlyweds; a seemingly innocent invitation to a celebration in the Kingdom of Far Far Away is all it takes to set the gears in motion.

Shrek and Fiona arrive home in a hail of confetti and hurrahs, only to find that home is not a bed of roses.  Fiona’s folks, Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) and King Harold (John Cleese), are disappointed in their monstrous son-in-law and horrified by Fiona’s appearance – a grass-pallored ogre-ess who beautifully complements her Prince’s large and sickly green-ness. 

Forcing themselves to be civil, the royal pair makes a starchy effort to get to know Shrek.  In the wings, Fiona’s fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders) has hatched a diabolical scheme of her own; to thwart Fiona’s marriage to Shrek and hitch her to the handsome Prince Charming (Rupert Everett).

Shrek 2 lives up to the promise of its predecessor with plenty of hip humor and fluid technology. The second Shrek is chock-full of studio jokes (poking fun at Hollywood politics) and a relentless string of “homage” to such classics (and non-classics) as From Here to Eternity, Alien, The Little Mermaid and TV’s perpetually cheesy Cops.  S2 lampoons a number of fairy-tale conventions but engages in the conflict and warmth of un-enchanted humanity.

Latin spunk and superfluous comic relief add to the raucous gaiety in the form of Antonio Banderas’ Puss In Boots, a smooth-talking fat cat wielding a mean Zorro-esque blade. Sprightly musical numbers pep up the action; harmonic intervals on speed.

Beautifully drawn characters and Pacific Data Images’ trademark facial animation system lend a healthy flowing reality to the animated proceedings. The effects flash by at staccato rhythm, encouraging repeat viewings for breakneck jabs and jousts. The dialogue is the star, a fast-paced wit-fest relying on the comic delivery of its talented participants to hit the perfect jocular pitch.