Thursday, 15 May 2014

Ani-MAY-tion Month: Shrek (2001)

The joy of Shrek may have been diluted slightly nowadays, after multiple sequels and spin-offs, but I'm still a fan of most things that feature the big green ogre at the centre of events, and the first film remains the best of the lot.

Based on a book by William Steig, Shrek is, for anyone who doesn't know, all about the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers). He likes to live alone in his swamp, but that isolated existence is threatened when a talking donkey (Eddie Murphy) bumps into him while fleeing from armed guards. That isolated existence is threatened even further when numerous fairytale creatures start to fill up his home, due to it being the one safe haven. The nasty Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) doesn't like fairytale creatures, and has been causing them no end of problems. When Shrek visits Farquaad to sort out getting his swamp back to himself, he ends up being tasked to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). If he does that then Farquaad will ensure that the swamp is back to how Shrek likes it.

It took a lot of people to craft this script - including Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman and Roger S. H. Schulman - but the end result is a wealth of great gags and sly references, as opposed to a bloated mess. The twisted fairytale may be overdone nowadays, but it's rarely been utilised to better effect than it is here, with the whole premise of Prince Charming rescuing the trapped Princess turned gleefully on its head.

Directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson do a great job of keeping everything perfectly paced and perfectly balanced. There may be a number of audio and visual gags aimed more at adults than the younger viewers, but they stay just the right side of cheeky, and there's never anything done that spoils the experience for the target demographic.

Myers, putting on a sorta-Scottish accent, makes Shrek an ogre that it's fun to hang around with. He's very childish, which obviously makes him appealing to children, and as the movie progresses we get to learn that ogres can be layered (like an onion, but not necessarily like a parfait). Murphy has his best role in years, as the cute, chatterbox Donkey, Diaz is a good match to play Princess Fiona, and Lithgow is a lot of fun as the diminutive Lord Farquaad.

There's a lot in this movie that people could choose to either love or hate - the accent that Myers uses, the standard selection of child-friendly tunes (All Star by Smash Mouth again??), the ending that rounds up some characters for a bit of a song and dance sequence. I loved it when I saw it at the cinema, and I still love it now.


Don't forget, every copy of my book sold gets a few pounds in my pocket, and gets you a good read (if I say so myself).

The UK version can be bought here -

And American folks can buy it here -

As much as I love the rest of the world, I can't keep up with all of the different links in different territories, but trust me when I say that it should be there on your local Amazon.

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