Shrek 2 (2004)

Critics everywhere have been lauding Shrek 2, calling it even better than the first. They should be; Shrek 2 appears to have been written for them and not for kids. As a 30 year old man, I thought overall it was a pretty good film — I’d say I laughed out loud at least half a dozen times, and caught at least a dozen references to random movies from the 80’s. My two and a half year old son, however, only laughed twice; once when Puss in Boots coughed up a hairball, and once when Shrek farted.

Shrek 2 picks up where the first film ended. Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz), our happily married couple from the first film, are invited back to the princess’ parents castle (in the land “Far Far Away”) to celebrate their marraige. Of course, Fiona’s parents are expecting two human beings, so when the two ogres arrive the welcome is less than warm.

Fiona’s mother the Queen (Julie Andrews) plays the part of the loving mother whose only concern is her daughter’s happiness. The King (John Cleese) however does not want ogres for in-laws or grandchildren, and sets into motion a plan that will unite Fiona with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). To carry out his plan, the King seeks the help of Prince Charming’s mother, Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), and the feline assassin Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas).

Throughout this 90 minute adventure you’ll see a lot of movie references and a lot of adult jokes. I can’t imagine the young Shrek demographic getting Aliens, Blazing Saddles, or Flashdance references. I’m sure the older kids in the audience laughed more than my son did. The adults laughed a few times too, but unlike the first movie it was rarely at the same time as the kids.

There were so many new characters in Shrek 2 that my son was constantly asking me, “who’s that, daddy?” Later in the movie, a few of the fairy tale creatures attempt to rescue Shrek and friends from certain doom and my son was glad to see them arrive, but their screen time is pretty small. There’s also a strange joke involving Pinnochio wearing women’s underwear that I’m glad my son didn’t get so I didn’t have to explain it to him.

In the animation department, Shrek 2 lives up to the first. In certain scenes it seemed like I was looking at real human beings. Much of Shrek 2 takes place indoors, so we don’t get as many beautifully colored outdoors scenes as the first film, but the indoor scenes are just as detailed as the outdoor ones were. I have a feeling people will be studying this movie when it comes out on DVD to find all the hidden jokes and references tucked away in the film’s backgrounds (particular when Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey first arrive in Far Far Away).

Like I said, there are plenty of little “in” jokes to keep adults happy, and I’m sure there is enough humor for the older kids as well. For my son, well, we’ve been bombarded by commercials for Shrek cereal, the Shrek 3D DVD, Shrek action figures, Shrek stuffed dolls, Shrek sountrack, Shrek games, Shrek game controller, Shrek coloring books, Shrek 2: Secret Potions Lab Playset, Shrek 2 Twisted Fairy Tale Game and the “Shrek Rotten Root Canal Play-Doh Set”. No doubt those things will tide us over for a couple of years, until the arrival of Shrek 3, which arrives in theaters in 2006.

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