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"Shrek 2"

Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon.
Written by William Steig, J. David Stem, Joe Stillman and David N. Weiss.
Starring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  5/24/04


After making a shitload of money over the weekend--the second-highest gross ever, apparently, for an opening weekend--"Shrek 2" doesn't have to be good, since it made back its budget after three days of release.  Big sequels like this are almost always a letdown, so with that in mind, at least "Shrek 2" doesn't suck "Van Helsing"-style.

Much like the original "Shrek", the sequel has many very funny moments measured in with a story that can really be a drag at times, sometimes going fairly long distances without a really solid laugh.  This time around our old ogre buddy Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) has just finished up his honeymoon with fellow princess-turned-ogre Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and have returned to their native swampland when they get a request from Fiona's parents (John Cleese and Julie Andrews) to attend a celebration in Far Far Away concerning the wedding of Fiona to her new husband.

Small problem--the parents think that Fiona has married Prince Charming (Rupert Everett).  The Prince, and his wicked mother, Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders, one of the stars of "Absolutely Fabulous"), spend the rest of the movie trying to get rid of Shrek, his old buddy Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and their new accomplice, a feline hitman named Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), so that Fiona will just have to fall in love with the Prince, making social life in this marriage MUCH more comfortable.

Making the Fairy Godmother the bad guy, as well as throwing in the random mix of old fairy tale characters here, are inspired choices that make the cameos of these characters a lot of fun.  Banderas sounds like he is having a blast playing his character; his Puss in Boots nearly saved the film for me a third of the way through, when he makes his first, when Puss goes for the pussycat eyes effect, our theater lost it.  A great soundtrack and just really cool animation makes "Shrek 2" very watchable throughout, and unlike many movies this year, the flick makes a great run in its final half-hour, from the Pinocchio line (as he is turned into a boy accidentally while falling through the air:  "I'm a real boyyyyyyyyyy!!!") to the giant Stay-Puft Man-style Gingerbread Man death (slow motion of characters yelling "Noooooooooo!!!" as he falls to the ground had our theater howling) to the musical number at the end were all great touches.

But the film takes a while to find its footing.  Once again, I don't understand how the film's writers made the Donkey character so annoying, but in the first 20 minutes, I almost wished they would find a way to kill off Donkey so I wouldn't have to hear the whining any more.  Many of the film's sight gags don't work; I'll admit that the idea of Far Far Away as an old-school Hollywood is quite funny, but save for a hilarious gag where patrons at a Starbucks-like coffee shop run from the store...only to run across the street to the OTHER Starbucks-like coffee shop in town, these plays on the modern Hollywood didn't amuse me.  The comedy here is more witty than worthy of guffaws, and that works for some people but not for me.  The 4000 children in my screening seemed quite happy though, so for the kids at least, this thing is a great time.

"Shrek 2" is the kind of flick that I will watch on NBC in a couple of years if I'm eating dinner near the TV and I happen to pass by it on the channel surf.  By no means is it a classic, and it isn't as well written as the first film...but, there really are some funny-ass sequences in this film that are worth seeing on the big screen.  Hey, you've got nine bucks to burn anyway, don't you?

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09