Shrek and Princess Fiona are enjoying their honeymoon and are about to live happily ever after, until they return home to the swamp to discover some royal heralds on their doorstep. Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen of the kingdom of “Far Far Away” have invited the newlyweds to the castle for a grand celebration of their nuptials. The King and Queen, however, have no clue their daughter has been permanently changed into an Ogre, or that she’s bringing home the meanest and greenest of them all to the sqeaky-clean fantasy land of Far Far Away. With the always comical Donkey along for the ride, Fiona and Shrek run into some trouble in the form of a duplicitous Fairy Godmother, her obnoxiously vain son Prince Charming, and the deadliest feline assassin in the land, Puss-In Boots.
Once again the brilliant animators and creative minds at Dreamworks animation have turned out a whimsical, hilarious, beautifully animated masterpiece. Shrek 2 is an absolute home run – a worthy sequel to its charming predecessor, and in some ways even better.
Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy settle into their familiar roles seamlessly, complimenting each other with laugh-out-loud dialogue exchanges and overall comedic chemistry. But it’s the new additions to the Shrek family that make the most impact on the film, and one of them steals the show in every single frame he appears in. I’m referring to Antonio Banderas’ insanely funny performance as Puss-In-Boots, the suave but deadly little kitty cat in big leather boots. Puss’s antics will have you rolling in the aisles and his sinister “special” attack that no one can overcome just may be the most precious, “awwwwww”-inducing moment in cinematic history.
John Cleese and Julie Andrews are also brilliant as Princess Fiona’s parents, especially in the fall-out-of-your-seat laughing dinner table sequence towards the beginning of the film. Jennifer Saunders is deliciously vampy in her role as the two-faced Fairy Godmother who cracks the whip at a huge potion factory and manipulates people’s heartache to fulfull her own twisted needs. Her son Prince Charming, is perfectly realized as a boorish, pompous twit by Rupert Everett.
The movie is filled with non stop, gut-busting laughter, and the sensational climax is wildly funny. But just like the first film, Shrek 2 delivers on the touching themes of love and acceptance as well. The film also takes some potshots at popular culture, parodying E! Network red carpet extravaganzas, COPS, Lord of the Rings, and the consumer culture in general. (Watch for the two medieval Starbucks positioned right across the street from each other in Far Far Away.) Shrek 2’s most wicked form of mockery comes at the expense of the big mouse house. The entire layout of the kingdom of Far Far Away looks suspiciously like a certain family friendly theme park, complete with look-a-like castle and gift shops as far as they eye can see. There is even a purposely obnoxious musical number that builds to a grand crescendo of swirling light and talking furniture ala Beauty and the Beast.
Shrek 2 is almost a perfect film-going experience in every way. Loveable characters, a funny and moving storyline, amazing computer animation, and it’s suitable for absolutely any age demographic. It’s a great, fun movie, period.