“Shrek” (2001) was irreverent, clever and chock-full of pop culture references. But “Shrek 2” (2004) is the rare sequel that might be even better than its predecessor. This follow-up challenges the bonds established between characters in the first film, and more potently mocks the sanctity of fairy tales. If you want to get stoned and lose yourself in fanciful fable, but still crave a sardonic bite that Disney princesses won’t quite satisfy, you’ve come to the right place.
Shrek (Mike Myers) and his bride Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have returned from their honeymoon and receive an invitation to a celebratory ball, courtesy of Fiona’s royal parents (who are human). The King and Queen of Far Far Away (ha) are less than thrilled to discover their daughter has wed an ornery ogre, and though Fiona knows Shrek is the guy for her, she still craves her parents’ approval. (Don’t we all?) Shrek begins to fear his humble, grimy lifestyle not suitable for the high-born girl he loves. The central drama of “Shrek 2” is the pair’s marriage – what happens after happily ever after?
Fiona’s dad Harold is waylaid by a local Fairy Godmother, who is also a manipulative social climber. Apparently, he has broken a promise that Fiona wed the Godmother’s son Prince Charming; Charming has luscious blond hair, but he’s cowardly and suspiciously effeminate. In an attempt to set things right, Harold hires Puss in Boots, an infamous fairy tale killer, to off Shrek; but Puss is just a kitty in shoes with a Spanish accent who befriends Shrek instead of murdering him.
“Shrek 2” has far too many inventive allusions to list – blink and you’ll miss 12. The story’s fairy tale villains hang out in a seedy dive bar called The Poison Apple, drowning their sorrows with liquor; one of Cinderella’s evil stepsisters is the bartender (a transvestite) and Captain Hook tinkers on the piano. Far Far Away is lined with Beverly Hills-style mansions and the kingdom’s name is spelled out in the distant hills, a nod to the Hollywood sign. “Shrek 2” has no qualms about lambasting celebrity wealth and superficiality with riotous aplomb.
Anya Jaremko-GreenwoldDGO Staff Writer