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Disney Film & Video Reviews by Kirby C. Holt
Green With Envy
First things first: Shrek is not a Disney film. Occasionally, Toon Talk will review animated films that are not produced by Disney that are still of interest to our readers.
That said, Shrek is the latest release from DreamWorks SKG's animation division. As every movie fan knows, the SKG stands for (Steven) Spielberg, (Jeffrey) Katzenberg and (David) Geffen. These three entertainment heavyweights teamed up to form their own studio several years ago, with former Disney exec Katzenberg handling the animation arm of the studio. And, again, everyone knows the animosity between Katzenberg and Michael Eisner (something about a "little midget") upon his departure from the Disney company.
Thus we come to Shrek: filled with irreverent pokes at Katzenberg's former Mouse House boss, some say it is his 'revenge' against Eisner. While the movie does have it's share of in-jokes and allusions to the classic Disney animated films (appearances by Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Snow White, et al; the evil lord's castle is run like a certain world famous theme park), it is not a wall-to-wall smear of Disney. None of the jabs are overtly mean-spirited, but they are not quite original either. We've seen these take-offs before, in everything from National Lampoon's Vacation to The Simpsons, and in most cases with better results. (And, for the record, most of these jokes can be seen in the trailer.)
The hero of this fractured fairy tale is Shrek, a reclusive ogre voiced by Mike Myers, in a variation of the Scottish brogue he used for his "Fat Bastard" character from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Shrek is quite comfortable in his swampy home, that is until his serenity is disturbed by the arrival of a wise-cracking talking donkey (Eddie Murphy, channeling Chris Rock) and hordes of dwarfs, fairies and other nursery rhyme folk. Seems that the ruler of the neighboring kingdom, the diminutive despot Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) has issued a decree baring all magical creatures from his domain. (I guess that would make it the Non-Magic Kingdom.)
In order to rid his swamp of the pesky pixies, Shrek goes to confront Farquaad at his palace, an imposing structure with it's own queue line and turnstiles. After Shrek, WWF-style, defeats his army of soldiers, Farquaad agrees to clear out Shrek's swamp of it's unwanted squatters, but only if the ogre will rescue a certain damsel in distress, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), from her prison in a nearby castle, guarded by a ferocious fire-breathing dragon.