Shrek 2 (2004) — Spot the pop culture reference

“Fear me, if you dare!”

Drew’s rating: Go, Mongo, go!

Drew’s review: Soooo… another summer, another onslaught of computer animated movies. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, as the general quality level seems to be pretty high. Still, if there was one that stood out other than Finding Nemo in the last couple of years, it was definitely the surprise hit Shrek. With the immense popularity of the first movie, almost all of the cast members returning (plus several promising new characters), and a bigger marketing blitz than the last three Tom Cruise movies combined, expectations for the sequel were sky high.

Fortunately, Shrek 2 doesn’t disappoint.

It’s basically your old familiar story: Ogre marries princess, ogre seeks king’s approval, fairy godmother hassles ogre, orge creates 100-foot gingerbread man to lay a beat-down on the bitch… pretty standard, really.

But what sets Shrek 2 apart from the pack is style. The first film was good, but at times it seemed to be too in love with its own concept. “Hey look,” it cried, “We’re messin’ around with fairy tales! Ain’t it cool?” (To which I replied that it was indeed… you know, back when Rocky and Bullwinkle did it.)

In the sequel, everything just feels much more natural, as both the film’s creators and the audience are now familiar with the world that’s been established. The jokes are funnier and more frequent, and since the moral is basically the same as last time — don’t judge a book by its cover, real beauty comes from the inside (“Well that’s just something ugly people say”), etc. — they don’t have to spend as much time hammering it home, leaving additional room for comedy. Frankly, it’s a pop culture geek’s dream come true, containing more movie parodies than a season’s worth of The Critic. And if you’re not into that sort of thing… well, what the hell are you doing on this site, anyway?

In terms of the animation, I don’t really have much to say, but that’s not meant as a criticism. Basically, it looks just as smooth and polished as the last one. The returning voice actors once again bring their A-games, while John Cleese does a fine job with Fiona’s father, the King, and Antonio Banderas clearly has a great time hamming things up as “Puss-…in-Boots,” the hairball-hacking assassin hired to dispatch Shrek. Add in a deliciously evil Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) with a penchant for crooning tunes from Footloose, and you’ve got yourself a fiesta, amigo!

Low points? Well, nobody’s perfect… I guess I could complain about the timing of having Pinocchio and the gang see Shrek’s capture on TV while Fiona’s marriage ball is about to start, then traveling hundreds of miles, carrying out a rescue mission, and still having time to make a giant gingerbread man before midnight.

Honestly, though, who cares? It’s a cartoon, marketed toward children and based on fairy tales… I think a bit of creative license is permissible. Meanwhile, it’s highly entertaining, suitable for all ages, and packed with more subtle visual gags than you could spot in three viewings. But by all means, have a great time trying!

Didja notice?

  • Even half of the movie/pop culture parodies? Just from memory, I caught The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, The Lord of the Rings, video game Street Fighter 2, Spider-Man, Alien, Beverly Hills Cop, The Seven-Year Itch, Garfield, Raiders of the Lost Ark, “Sir” Justin (Timberlake), Beauty and the Beast, Mission: Impossible, TV shows Cops and Seinfeld, Ghostbusters, Blazing Saddles, E.T., Flashdance, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I’m sure there are plenty more that I missed, too.
  • Puss-in-Boots is voiced by Antonio Banderas, who played the title character in The Mask of Zorro. In the movie, Puss carves a “P” into a tree with three strokes of his sword, just like Zorro’s infamous “Z.”
  • When the Fairy Godmother gives the king a potion to make Fiona fall in love with Prince Charming, it’s labeled “IX”… that is, love potion number 9.
  • Disney is made fun of numerous times: Fiona finds Ariel kissing Shrek and throws her away into a group of sharks; Tinkerbell is one of the fairies used as lights (and later dances with Gigi); Captain Hook is playing piano in The Poison Apple; and during the escape from the “Old Keebler Place,” we see Lumiere and Cogsworth flying around.
  • Many of the store signs in Far Far Away are spoofs of actual stores. I won’t list them all, but my favorites are Old Knavery (Navy) and Tower of London Records.
  • In Fiona’s room, there’s a “Stonehenge” poster featuring the members of Spinal Tap. Yesssssss!
  • The COPS parody
  • The wolf at the first scene is reading ‘Pork Illustrated’ with a picture of a pig in a swimming suit on the cover. [thanks Ohad]
  • There is someone that cleans the horses at the city when Shrek and Fiona first arrive. He gets a quarter (or something) for his service and checks with his teeth that it is real. [thanks Ohad]
  • When Shrek, Donkey and Puss run away from the fairy godmother at her plant, there is a picture on the wall with “employee of the month” with all the employees look excatly the same! [thanks Ohad]
  • When Mongo is attacking Far, Far Away, there is one part where he reaches down and he picks up a coffee cup off what looks like a Starbucks. When this happens, the people inside flee in terror.
  • Normally, this isn’t funny, but the funny part is where they run to: the Starbucks across the street. [thanks Pat]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s