Shrek 2

I could probably count the number of sequels that live up to their predecessor on my hand.  It seems like no matter how bad a movie is, somehow it can always be made worse. Not to mention that even great movies can often spawn works of hellish disaster.  Just think of Cadyshack 2, Speed 2 or even The Matrix trilogy.

 

That's why good sequels like Godfather 2, Aliens, and Terminator 2 have all become classics.  And surprisingly, Shrek 2: A Fairytale Interrupted, fits snugly into this category.

 

The sequel picks up just where the first one ended.  Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon to find an invitation for dinner with Fiona's parents in celebration of their wedding.  The catch is that King and Queen have no idea Fiona has married an ogre.  To complicate matters the King had already promised Fiona to the Fairy Godmother's son Prince Charming.

 

Just like the first Shrek, the sequel smartly pokes fun at a number of older fairy tales.  The movie includes characters from Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel and Repunzel just to name a few.

 

The biggest laughs however, come from the movie's savvy skewering of Hollywood.  Fiona's hometown of the Land of Far Far Away looks suspiciously like a combination of the Paramount studio lot and a corner of Beverly Hills. The streets are littered with a series of sight gags and Starbucks.  Throughout the film there are great parodies of movies including Mission Impossible, The Fabulous Baker Boys and Flashdance. One particularly hilarious bit was a pseudo-video-taped spoof of Cops transformed into Knights.     

 

In addition, the entire theatre was in hysterics at the sight of a Sir Justin poster on the wall of Princess Fiona's old bedroom.  The stars' romance is so notorious that I probably don't need to point out that Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz are currently one of Hollywood's hottest couples.

 

Diaz, Myers and Murphy are able to recreate their characters just as charming and clever as they did in the original.  The excellent banter between Myers and Murphy is consistently witty and the added dynamic of a new "annoying animal" produces an even stronger, funnier trio.  It is in fact Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, who often steals the show, spoofing himself as Zorro. Jennifer Saunders, best known for her work in Ab Fab, creates a feisty, evil, completely unique Fairy Godmother.  Rupert Everett rounds out the cast of newcomers as the vain, narcissistic, haughty Prince Charming.

 

The computer graphics of the film remain wonderful.  Each character is completely distinct with a wide array of realistic and captivating facial expressions.  In the sequences where the characters traveled through different weather conditions there were moments that I could have sworn I was looking at film rather than a computerized image.

 

The movie works so well because it is able to appeal to both children and adults alike.  It has just the right amount of cartoon magic mixed with a biting wit that will leave kids and parents wanting more.  And despite the fact that it is an entirely modern fairy tale, it still retains a sweet, traditional, good hearted message that we could all use every once in a while.

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