After three years of resting in his swamp with his true love, DreamWorks’ Oscar-winning CG ogre, Shrek, will be having a brand new adventure on the big screen today. Directed by Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon and Andrew Adamson, Shrek 2 picks up where the first film off, as the ogre newlyweds Shrek and Fiona (voiced by the dynamic duo of Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz) are about to leave for their honeymoon. Of course, the trying prospect of meeting Fiona’s royal parents puts a big damper on the happy couple’s future. And that’s just the beginning of this charming, colorful and often hilarious 96-minute journey.
Thanks to the hard work of the animation artists and technicians at PDI and DreamWorks, Shrek 2 is yet another example of CG animation that literally sparkles with life. Although the digital human figures still look stiff and a bit off, the well-lit interiors of the castle and the depictions of fur and cloth show improvements from the first outing.
The script by Andrew Adamson, Joe Stillman, J. David Stern and David N. Weiss moves at a great pace, offering numerous tongue-in-cheek nods to other movies and pop cultural references, from Cops, Rawhide and Mission Impossible, to Joan Rivers, Justin Timberlake and Starbucks. As Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers points out, "Shrek 2 brims with perverse pleasures that show no respect for the rules of kiddie-cartoon form.”
The sequel also brings back Eddie Murphy as the entertaining sidekick Donkey and features the voices of Julie Andrews and John Cleese as Fiona’s parents, Rupert Everett as Prince Charming and Jennifer Saunders as Fairy Godmother. However it’s Antonio Banderas as the voice of Puss in Boots who steals the show as the adorable feline who is asked to slay Shrek but then becomes Donkey’s rival for the good ogre’s affections. By the way, the film’s soundtrack, picked by KCRW’s Chris Douridas, includes killer songs by Counting Crows, Tom Waits, Frou Fou, Butterfly Boucher, Joseph Arthur, Peter Yorn and Nick Cave.
Shrek 2 opens in 3,737 locations today and will expand to more screens on Friday. A hit-starved industry will watch the film’s performance closely, hoping it will help boost this year’s lackluster box-office. Admission sales are down 2.9% against last year’s numbers.
If you plan to see the movie this week, make sure you arrive early. You won’t want to miss a great trailer for DreamWorks’ upcoming fall release, Shark Tale. Yes, that one looks pretty good, too. Also, don’t get up and leave as soon as the credits start rolling. One of the best gags in the movie is tucked in the middle of the end-credit sequence. For a behind-the-scenes story about the making of Shrek 2, see the May issue of Animation Magazine.