Shrek 2
directed by Andrew Adamson,
Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon
(DreamWorks, 2004)

I'm no princess, and I certainly don't rule over a fantastic kingdom. Yet there's a moment in Shrek 2 when my life melds seamlessly with that of Princess Fiona.

En route to the Kingdom of Far, Far Away, where Fiona and her new husband, Shrek the ogre, have been summoned, Donkey's patience has worn thin. "700 miles to Far, Far Away" reads the road sign.

"Are we there yet? Are we there yet?" chants Donkey like a child who's been fed chocolate-covered espresso beans. Told to clam up, Donkey's silent. For a moment. Then, lips pursed, he pops them open with a "Pah!" Again. And again. And again.

It's just one in a jumble of moments that makes this animated blockbuster just as human as anything else produced on film this year.

Three years after Shrek covered every movie screen in America, Shrek 2 came back to do the same, and then some. And, again, though they're really just computer-aided animation given voice by celebrities, they carry more vibrant personality, more heart, than can reasonably be expected from an ogre, a donkey and an assassin cat.

And it's that cat, Puss in Boots, that makes Shrek 2 for me. Voiced by Antonio Banderas, he's a hissing, amorous ball of fur, and he gets the funniest lines in the whole deal.

The movie picks up where Shrek left off: Shrek and Fiona have gotten married, and she's forsaken her "beautiful princess" persona for the real her: an ogre princess.

Then word comes from her parents, the King and Queen of Far, Far Away, to travel there for a wedding celebration. They don't know, however, that Fiona's opted to remain an ogre -- and Fiona doesn't realize that her father had already promised her hand in marriage to Prince Charming, the Fairy Godmother's pampered son.

When it comes down to it, Shrek 2 takes the traditional fairy tale and gives it a modern sensibility -- check out all the pop culture references, Fiona's own blooming sense of independence and the series' refusal to equate physical beauty with the "good" characters.

And even if fairytales aren't your cup of tea, it's still fun to sit back and catch the inside jokes, the big-name voices (like interviewer Larry King as the evil stepsister bartender), the spot-on soundtrack, the astounding animation. Entertaining for Mom and Dad, but sweet enough for the kids: it really is a fairytale.

- Rambles
written by Jen Kopf
published 15 January 2005

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