U.S. Release Date: May 19, 2004
Distributor: DreamWorks
Director: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Writer: J. David Stem, David N. Weiss
Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg (Executive)
Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams, John Powell (Theme)
Cast: Mike Myers (Voice), Cameron Diaz (Voice), Eddie Murphy (Voice), Antonio Banderas (Voice), Julie Andrews (Voice)
Running Time: 1 hour and 33 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG (for some crude humor, a brief substance reference and some suggestive content )

Happily Ever Askew... Again
by C.A. Wolski

Those who thought that green skinned ogre Shrek's story was over after he won the heart of the equally green Princess Fiona would be wrong. The second entry into what is undoubtedly becoming DreamWorks' first franchise, Shrek 2 chronicles life in happily ever after territory.

After a suitably cute honeymoon montage, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) return to their beloved swamp to find they have to pack their bags again and travel to the kingdom of Far Far Away to meet Fiona's parents. Of course, the princess' parents, the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews), are shocked to learn that their lovely daughter is no longer fair and is married to an ogre to boot. Complicating matters is that years before the King had promised Fiona to the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders)'s obnoxious off-spring Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), necessitating the King hiring the only creature in the land that can kill an ogre Puss-in-Boots (Antonio Banderas).

Add Donkey (Eddie Murphy), enchanted potions and a wildly imaginative animation style to the mix, and you have the same magic that made the original a terrific ride.

There is nothing extraordinarily new going on here, but the ride that again teaches Shrek, Fiona and the gang that you should be who you are and not judge people (or in this case ogres) by their looks is quite enjoyable.

Transformed by a magic potion, Donkey and Shrek have several amusing adventures, culminating in a sort of battle, which is actually a lot more thrilling than any of the action sequences in Van Helsing.

As with the original, directors Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon take a ton of swipes at Disney standbys—particularly Pinocchio, who is a rather twisted little puppet—and makes references to numerous movies (Mission: Impossible), TV shows (a hilarious spoof on Cops), and pop culture icons (Justin Timberlake, Starbucks). Many of these references will go over kids' heads, but that's okay. The movie is bright, kinetic and silly enough to engage the little ones as well.

The cast does a stellar job once again, with Murphy stealing every scene he's in until Banderas comes along and steals all the scenes away from Murphy. Banderas is the real find here. He does a great job playing off his sexy, leading man persona, spoofing it without undercutting it. Saunders is equally good as the Fairy Godmother, being sweet and menacing at the same time. In addition, she has a couple of musical numbers, which showcase her surprisingly strong singing voice. Cleese, Andrews, Myers, and Diaz also adeptly make their pixilated characters come to life.

Special kudos should go to DreamWorks' animation department, who have created a beautiful-to-look-at picture. It's a joy to sit back and enjoy the stunning world they have created.

Shrek isn't particularly original, but it is a pleasant and enjoyable ride for the whole family.

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