CommentaryFTC Record

‘Shrek 2’ back in theatres from April 11-14 for limited 20th Anniversary run.

Review: Just like ogres, sequels have layers.


By Stephen Cooney

In the wake of its 20th anniversary, Shrek 2 is being re-released in theaters from April 11th-14th. First hitting the big screen on May 19, 2004, the highly anticipated sequel was an immediate hit with critics and fans alike. While some critics and moviegoers at the time thought the movie was ogre-rated (see what I did there), it became a cult classic over the years and is now widely considered as one of the greatest sequels of all time.

Taking place after Shrek and Fiona’s honeymoon, the titular ogre is faced with a task even greater than scaling towers and fighting dragons:

Meeting his in-laws.

As Fiona is a princess, and Shrek is not the most elegant of swamp-dwelling monsters, meeting the parents doesn’t go so smoothly. Following a very awkward yet amusing family dinner, the Fairy Godmother appears in attempt to give Fiona what she believes to be a more ideal husband. While Fiona denies this “gift”, Shrek realizes that he’s not exactly the charming prince that she’d always dreamt of.

The sequel sees the beloved cast returning to reprise their roles, as well as some new additions to the motley crew of fairy-tale misfits. The most notable being the feline assassin, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). The frightening and frighteningly cute hitman (or hit cat) became a fan favorite almost instantly after joining Shrek and Donkey in their quest to save his marriage. Banderas does a wonderful job of portraying the feline-for-hire, perfectly capturing the threatening aura of the character during his introduction, as well as the cute and comedic moments shared with the rest of the cast throughout the film.

Two other fan-favorite additions to the star-studded lineup of characters are The Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) and her spoiled son, the real Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). The Fairy Godmother is a sleazy con woman who acts as the main villain of the story, trying to help Prince Charming steal Fiona from Shrek and become the new king of Far-Far Away. Jennifer Saunders creates an unmatched energy in her role as the main antagonist, where she sings her way to the hearts of the fans as we root for her downfall. Rupert Everett as Prince Charming lives up to the character’s name, as he creates an astounding balance between a charming prince and a spoiled 6-year-old throwing a tantrum.

The new additions to the cast aren’t the only must-sees. The returning characters are back and better than ever. Of course, there’s Shrek (Michael Myers). His goofy gross-out antics are back, but that’s not all. The movie sees our beloved green goofball undergo some changes, both physical and emotional. For one, he’s a human for most of the film, as he’s trying to be the prince charming that Fiona always dreamed of having (not that Prince Charming.) With this change, Shrek begins to question what’s best for him and Fiona, as he sees his wife walking off with Prince Charming, thinking that maybe it is best to let her believe that the prince is Shrek.

Fiona (Cameron Diaz) has some development as well, as we see her try to fall in love with her Prince Charming but is ultimately unable to do so because she fell in love with Shrek, not Prince Charming in disguise. Despite her wanting a Prince Charming all along, she chooses instead to stay as an ogre with Shrek, instead of remaining as humans who get their stereotypical happily-ever-after.

The movie also builds on its predecessor by amping up the jokes and pop-culture references in this parody of classic fairy tales. From the many parodies of fast-food restaurants like ‘Burger Prince’ and ‘Farbucks,’ to Puss in Boots being a feline version of Zorro from “The Mask of Zorro,” the movie hits the mark on its references.

Sometimes these are throw-away gags, like Puss tearing out of Shrek’s shirt like the iconic scene from “Alien,” but sometimes they’re actual plot points, like when the Gingerbread Man and the other characters from the first movie see Shrek, Donkey, and Puss on an episode of ‘Knights’ (like “Cops” but medieval) and decide to go help them stop the Fairy Godmother’s Plan.

It isn’t all jokes though. The themes of change and acceptance shine through in the film, with the characters struggling with the idea of changing for those they love while retaining the qualities that made them love you in the first place. Shrek becomes a human in hopes of making Fiona happy after she becomes an ogre in the first film to live her life with Shrek. The film emphasizes people changing for the ones they love, as well as falling in love regardless of physical appearance. This is especially true when it’s revealed that the King was a frog all along. While he apologizes for failing to be the man the Queen deserves, she replies by saying that he’s more of the man she deserves than he ever was before.

These emotional beats wouldn’t be nearly as impactful without the aid of the film’s outstanding soundtrack. The opening scene with The Counting Crows’ “Accidentally in Love” beautifully sums up the love story between Shrek and Fiona, while the scene of Shrek transforming into a human is perfectly accompanied by “Changes” by David Bowie. You can’t talk about this movie’s soundtrack without talking about the finale’s arrangement of “Holding Out for a Hero” by Bonnie Tyler. This arrangement is sung by Jennifer Saunders as The Fairy God Mother and is widely considered the best scene from the movie. Instead of just using the original song, or just covering it and calling it a day, the arrangement instead acts as a score to the scene. The scene is synced to the music in a way that helps build upon the already action-packed climax. It adds a more upbeat and eventful tone while Shrek is storming the royal ball with the aid of his friends, but while they cut to Fiona dancing with Prince Charming, the song transitions into the bridge, which is a classical tango-esque arrangement of the same song.

As a sequel that has become just as beloved as its predecessor, Shrek 2 is nothing short of a cinematic masterpiece. If you somehow haven’t seen the movie after 20 years, then buy your tickets. The whole franchise is beloved and generally just a classic must-watch for the whole family. If you can’t get to the theatres for the limited April 11-14 run, you can each Shrek 2 and Shrek 1 on Peacock.



Related Articles

Back to top button