Shrek 2

Shrek was one of the most original and funny animated films of recent years so the sequel has a lot to live up to. Fortunately the second film is more like a continuation picking up straight after the first.

The film begins with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) crossing perilous lands to storm the highest tower of the castle expecting to find Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and to awake her from the spell with a kiss. Imagine his horror when he pulls back the gossamer curtain to discover that there’s wolf in a nightie in her place and that Princess Fiona is on her honeymoon with an ogre, Shrek (Mike Myers). 

Cut to the happy couple enjoying their honeymoon before returning to the swamp to discover that Donkey (Eddie Murphy) has decided to ‘pop round’ (which means he’s bored). Before they have had a chance to start married life, a message is received from Fiona’s parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), inviting the happy couple to visit them in a Kingdom of Far Far Away.

So a reluctant Shrek, an excited Fiona and a generally annoying Donkey set off to the Kingdom of Far Far Away to see the in-laws, who unfortunately don’t know that their daughter is married to an ogre.

King Harold is understandably perturbed to discover that his little girl is now a tall, broad, green ogress and with every intention of staying that way. Matters are not helped by the mutual disliking between himself and his new son-in-law.

Things take a turn for the worse when the Fairy Godmother (a superb turn by Jennifer Saunders) appears for a little ‘chat’ with Harold. It transpires that Harold and the Fairy Godmother had a deal – she’ll turn Fiona into an ogress with the intention that her son, the aforementioned Prince Charming, would rescue her, breaking the spell and therefore allowing Fiona to fall in love with the obnoxious Prince. The Fairy Godmother gets a kingdom for her son, Harold gets his daughter married off and Fiona gets her Prince – everyone’s a winner………well, they would be if it wasn’t for one small, or rather large, green problem – Shrek.

Ordered by the Fairy Godmother to solve the issue of Shrek, Harold hires an assassin – the only one who could take out an ogre – Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas).

So with a father-in-law who hates him, a wife who’s angry with him and an assassin hot on his heels, it’s left to Shrek to try and stay alive long enough to save his bride. Fortunately he’s got the ‘help’ of Donkey so what could go wrong?

Shrek 2 is without a doubt a cracking sequel and one that manages to take the story further without failing its predecessor. There are so many pop and cultural references tucked away in the back ground as well as the now obligatory digs at Di$ney. These include having the The Little Mermaid being eaten by sharks, spoofs of Spiderman, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and a host of others before even the starting credits!

The background is also a treasure trove of hidden jokes and sly winks. The streets of a Kingdom of Far Far away spoof Hollywood’s, with glitzy show business parties, designer shops (such as Versarchery and Gap Queen) stretch carriages, and many more.

This time round it’s not just the Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy providing the laughs; Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Saunders hold their own. Antonio Banderas’s character of Puss In Boots has the cutest little ‘sad face’ that will melt the heart of even the coldest audience members. Julie Andrews and Rupert Everett are the only two cast members who feel wasted and underutilised which is a shame. The slew of characters gets better with bigger roles for Pinocchio, The Gingerbread Man and the Three Blind Mice from the first film, plus we even get to meet The Muffin Man.

There are a couple of musical moments, but unlike Di$ney films where they tend to drag on (when was the last good recent Di$ney song?) here they add so much to the film. Imagine seeing a Fairy Godmother belting out Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero” whilst action ensues all around and you get the gist.

Visually Shrek 2 is much better looking than the already stunning visual of its predecessor from the stunning backgrounds to the fur on the creatures. It’s amazing how good CGI movies have become over the last few years. It takes everything that worked in the first film and adds more of the same instead of trying to reinvent itself.

Shrek 2 is a must see film – it’s got great action sequences, loads of satirical jabs at pop culture from the TV show COPs to a hilarious version of the OJ ‘White Bronco’ chase. It’s almost as if the humour is geared up for grown-ups with all the references to the extent that kiddies will just end up enjoying the basic story (and fart jokes) whilst grown-ups enjoy the film on a completely different level.

Shrek 2 is a rare treat – a film that works on many levels and one that stands up to multiple viewings. Plus make sure that you stay through the end credits to see what happens to one of the characters from the first film.

Score 10/10