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"Shrek"

Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson.
Written by Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman and Roger S.H. Schulman. 
Starring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
Release Year:  2001
Review Date:  5/24/01 

Folks-- 

I must admit, my hopes were high for "Shrek" coming in, from both my own excitement over the film plus the number of rave reviews I got from friends, family, and my boss, Howard "E-Family" Lax.  So, I hit the multiplex tonight between activities to check it out.

And, I now must admit, I am kinda let down.  Not because the film isn't good--there are many instances where I thought the film was interesting--but, because it wasn't great.

Mike Myers voices the Shrek character, an ogre that lives on his own in a province that I think is called Duloc (or, maybe that is just the name of one of the castles).  Life is decent for the big, ugly green guy until a donkey--named, Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy)--shows up and makes life difficult.  In Shrek's fairytale world, classic fairy tale characters like The Three Blind Mice, Snow White and the three bears from Goldilocks (amongst others) are trying to hide out on Shrek's suburban ranch property, so to get all of them out of his life, he takes up the evil Prince Farquaad (John Lithgow) on a quest.  The Prince's quest:  save a princess (Cameron Diaz) from the clutches of an evil dragon so that he can wed her and become a King.

The premise and the first half-hour of the film is very well done, very funny, and the computer animation for the movie is really amazing, even if it is not something you haven't seen before.  But, for whatever reason, the filmmakers decided it would be more interesting to have Shrek save the princess--without ANY difficulty--halfway through the movie, leaving the rest of it for Shrek and the princess to fall in love (the obvious) while trekking back to Duloc.

And, it was during this period--more so after the hilarious Robin Hood sequence, which once again ripped off...you guessed it..."The Matrix"—that I wanted to fall asleep.  There were some of those tumbleweed-esque points in my theater where jokes were being told by Shrek and Donkey and *no one* in my theater was laughing.  The princess falls in love with Shrek so fast that it leaves no time for the uncomfortable Joe-meets-Jane phase of the beginning of any onscreen relationship...in my mind, the part that leads to the most laughs or tension.

The movie picks up again by the end, and the end sequence--with Donkey belting out tunes with the Seven Dwarfs--is laugh-out-loud funny.  But, for the most part, the film is never more than just amusing.  And, did Lithgow's Farquaad not seem evil enough to you?  Besides picking on The Gingerbread Man, he doesn't do anything that makes me want to hate him.  This is fairly important, since he is...the bad guy.

Even though the film clearly has kids and the summer movie audience in mind, a *little* thinking would have been nice in developing this relationship between Shrek and the princess...especially since the movie is only 80 minutes long.  Strangely, the film does a very good job of poking fun at Disneyland (the desired outcome of the filmmakers, many of whom broke off from Disney to work at rival Dreamworks), but not too well at developing a story.  It was this frustration that got to me most:  the movie is brilliant sometimes--how great were the cue cards being shown at the Coliseum??—and then sometimes, it just resorts to Shrek farting or burping, making it look intellectually non-existent in many other spots.  And this was even with my brain turned off because I was expecting a kids movie.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

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 bad...man, 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/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09