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Thursday, January 6, 2005

The Casual Critic — Shrek 2

I remembered laughing out loud on at least a couple occasions watching Shrek in a theater, so I figured the sequel was the perfect opportunity to break in the new DVD player. Unfortunately, the laughs didn’t survive any more than Shrek and Fiona's marital bliss after their honeymoon.

There just wasn’t anything new in Shrek 2. Sure, the frequent play on words was still there, as well as the fairy tale characters showing their “real” side. But the shock value just wasn’t there. We saw that in the original, and the jokes just weren’t as good. Shrek’s reply to Donkey’s “are we there yet” complaints that they were, after all, headed to Far, Far Away just doesn’t hit the mark. Pinocchio’s failed attempt to stretch his nose by “lying” about wearing women’s underwear was the closest I came to an actual laugh.

At times I actually found myself wondering why the story line — usually a mere necessity to keep the jokes going in such films — was so involved. Not that it used up any brain power, but I certainly didn’t need to see the ugly side of Fairy Godmother. The fact that a brief Cops parody was used to move the plot along tells you the lengths used to get the story done.

Missed opportunity was a major problem with the film. Fiona’s parents send for her and her new husband — expecting their beautiful daughter and Prince Charming — only to have Shrek and the ogre version of Fiona arrive. There were a few decent barbs between the disappointed father and Shrek, but nothing that Meet the Parents couldn’t have provided. At one point the king and queen deduce that their grandchildren will be ogres, and we get the Seinfeld-esque “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

Even the DVD extras came up small. The fairy tale characters perform in an American Idol-style competition — complete with an animated Simon as a judge — that did little for me. On my still-in-the-making scale, I say skip it unless you just loved the first and feel you must see the sequel.

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