Shrek was a Cultural Reset!
Shrek follows an ogre named Shrek who goes on a quest with a talking Donkey (named Donkey) to save a princess named Fiona in exchange for his swamp.
Even though Shrek is based on a children’s book, it is an original story. The plot of the movie differs from the book as it has more humour and adds in more fairytale elements. I read the plot of the book on Wikipedia and this version of the story is better and I’m pretty sure it’s a more entertaining movie.
Hearing that Shrek originally had a Canadian accent makes me uneasy. I cannot imagine him with any other accent apart from Scottish. It adds to the comedy of the film. I am 100% sure the jokes would not have the same effect. Mike Myers is synonymous with this role, maybe it’s because he’s been voicing this role for almost 20 years but I don’t know if there is anyone else that could have delivered his lines the way he did.
I don’t have to say that Eddie Murphy killed this role. We all know that he’s hilarious and this movie is no different. Donkey manages to make you laugh once every few minutes and I’m sure Eddie Murphy started ad-libbing and the directors ran with it because there is no way all of Donkey’s jokes were in the script.
Fun fact, when I was younger, I didn’t know Cameron Diaz voiced Fiona. I didn’t know who did it but I didn’t expect her. Fiona is a really likeable character and it has in part to do with the writing but also Cameron Diaz’s delivery. She has a very soft voice that you would associate with a princess but also has subtle tonal shifts that make sense for a princess that stands up for herself.
John Lithgow, that’s all I have to say. Lord Farquad is my favourite character in the movie. It has to do with the way he’s written and John Lithgow’s delivery because a lot of the lines would not be as funny as they are if he wasn’t saying them the way he was.
This movie is absolutely hilarious and seeing as it’s been a few years since I had seen it, I didn’t remember a lot of the jokes. It’s also very interesting that there are layers to the jokes in this movie. There are a lot of the jokes that will fly over a child’s head (like the one’s talking about Lord Farquad overcompensating for something) and there are general things that a child would laugh at. Like Eddie Murphy being Eddie Murphy and because of that, the jokes hold up. They were funny when I first saw the movie and they are funny now.
This is a movie with fart jokes. If you had never seen it, you wouldn’t expect it to have an inspiring message about beauty being in the eyes of the beholder, and a princess who knows hand to hand combat, but here we are. It also subverts a lot of fairytale tropes and is quite meta about it. When Shrek rescues Fiona from the tower, she mentions a bunch of things a knight is supposed to do and Shrek says he’s not that kind of knight. The filmmakers knew what kind of movie they were making from the jump and stuck with it. Shrek even tells you over narration that this is not “that”
kind of movie.
At the time this movie was released, computer-generated animation was not the norm. What is interesting is how good it looks. Fiona looks realistic and her hair flows a lot like Rapenzel’s does in Tangled. Sometimes when I watch Toy Story, I comment on how it looks regarding the animation but I didn’t find myself making any comments about the animation with this movie. (Granted this movie came out 6 years after Toy Story.) And given how much the characters move, computer-generated animation was the way to go.
If you didn’t know the movie was released in the early 2000s, the soundtrack will tell you. I haven’t heard All-Star by Smash Mouth in a long time but I still remember every word. The interesting thing is that the soundtrack does not relate to the movie at all. Usually, with a soundtrack, the songs usually have something to do with the movie either with tone or with the lyrics but that is not the case here. It was as if the directors heard some songs on the radio, went “That sounds cool.” and put it in the movie. And the most interesting thing of all is that it works. The songs are random sure, but it works with the overall tone of the movie. When you watch this movie it’s kinda random but it has an overarching flow that makes sense. It revels in its seeming randomness and the soundtrack only serves to push that narrative forward. I mean what even is this scene?
As I stated in the title, Shrek was a cultural reset. In the early 200’s there weren’t any 3D animated fairy tales movies that were this meta or had a soundtrack made up almost entirely of songs from the early 2000s. It was unique and a direct challenge to fairy tales characters that we’re familiar with.
When I say this movie is iconic, I’m not joking. I see a tweet about this movie almost every day. I saw this tweet this morning.
And I can’t blame people for bringing up this movie (and its subsequent sequel which is actually BETTER). It’s a fun movie with great jokes and references, a good message and a soundtrack right out of a One Tree Hill episode. What’s not to love?
Originally published at http://www.thecinematicaficionado.com on July 16, 2020.