After battling a fire-breathing dragon who had a thing for donkeys and the evil midget Lord Farquaad to win the hand of Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Shrek (Mike Myers) now faces his greatest challenge: his in-laws. The newlyweds return from their honeymoon to find an invitation to visit Fiona’s parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) of the Kingdom of Far, Far Away.
With Donkey (Eddie Murphy) along for the ride, the newlyweds set off. All of the citizens of Far, Far Away turn out to greet their returning Princess, and her parents happily anticipate the homecoming of their daughter and her new Prince. But no one could have prepared them for the sight of their new son-in-law, not to mention how much their little girl had…well…changed.
Little did Shrek and Fiona know that their marriage had foiled all of her father’s plans for her future…and his own. Now the King must enlist the help of a powerful Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), the handsome Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) and that famed ogre killer Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) to put right his version of “happily ever after”.
As with most sequels, Shrek 2 isn’t as fresh or original as its predecessor. The straightforward plot lacks the bite of the original. The Fairy Godmother, despite a fine voice performance by Saunders isn’t as strong a villain as John Lithgow’s Lord Farquaad was, the film’s messages of tolerance, acceptance and believing in yourself has already been covered and the two musical numbers that manage to find their way into the film are pretty lacklustre.
Those debits aside, the film is consistent with what matters most, its quotient of laughter and entertainment. Credit for the film’s success belongs by and large to the spirited ensemble cast and their fine vocal work, the highlights being Murphy (once again) as Donkey and Banderas, with his sly delivery as Puss In Boots, a wonderful new addition to the series. Anyone who has ever owned or held a dislike for felines will find a lot to laugh about in this wonderful version of the children’s literary character. The filmmakers would be wise to bring the kitty back when the inevitable third instalment is produced.
There’s not much to say about the animation as it is as good as it was the first time around, if not a bit better with its handling of the backgrounds and human characters. PDI, the company who produced the Shrek films, may still not be in the same league as Pixar Animation, they are making great strides to be counted as a worthwhile equal.
Shrek 2 may not be in the same league as another computer-animated sequel from a few years ago, Toy Story 2, but it is the funniest film I have seen so far this year (next to The Day After Tomorrow).
In a summer movie season (yes folks, we are almost an entire month into it already) that has so far delivered one bloated gas bag of an effects reel posing as film after another, having a big-budget Hollywood popcorn film show even the slightest bits of competence, talent and entertainment behind it is not only enough to warrant a recommendation, it may also be cause enough for celebration.