|Shrek 2: Wit, Gags and Heart to the Second Power|
Shine your wand, grab a steaming cup of "Farbucks" coffee, brush up on your Fractured Fairy Tales and fly to the nearest theatre showing Shrek 2 as fast as your pixie dust can transport you.
The plot? Ooh. Tough call. I don't want to spoil one teardrop's worth of the happily-ever-aftering fun for you. But in the proverbial, golden nutshell…
Shrek (Mike Myers) and ogress Fiona (Cameron Diaz), newly pronounced as "ogre and wife," must meet Fiona's parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of the Kingdom of Far, Far Away. Donkey (Eddie Murphy), riding the rumble seat in a reprise of his irritating but lovable self, makes the kingdom seem especially far, far away indeed. Are we there yet? No!
As with Shrek, no fairy tale norm remains unchallenged.
Enter a Prince Charming who most definitely is not, and a Fairy Godmother who is -- Marlon Brando style. Mix in a Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) reminiscent of Princess Bride's Inigo Montoya, minus the angst, shake vigorously, and much mayhem and merriment ensues.
No children to justify your appearance at a "children's movie?" No problem. The only adults who won't understand are the ones who haven't seen it yet. The script fairly bursts with clever cultural references, cameos, movie tributes and trashings, and mild innuendo.
Look for such delicacies as Prince Charles/Princess Diana references, a scene featuring a new character named like one from Blazing Saddles but proportioned like one from Ghostbusters, lampooned commercial ventures such as "Old Knavery" and "Farbucks Coffee," the Little Mermaid being thrown to the sharks, Tinkerbell used as mud-bath mood lighting, and a transvestite Ugly Stepsister working as a tavern "wench." Those represent only a few; Shrek 2 bears multiple viewings simply to ingest the sheer volume of gags.
As far as flaws go, I could have lived quite happily ever after indeed without learning what sort of undergarments Pinoccio wears, and Fiona seemed a bit too easily duped in the last act. But in the end those annoyances popped like soap bubbles.
The wit makes Shrek 2 interesting to adults, and thankfully, much of it sailed over my 8-year-old's head. But its subtext of sacrificial love, beautifully (if a tad predictably) realized in the denouement, transforms the movie into an instant classic to outshine its formidable predecessor. Quite a feat in this age of tacky, fast-buck cinematic knock-offs.
So, what are you waiting for? An engraved royal summons? Pack your onion carriage and go!
Kim D. Headlee
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