Remember back in the late 90s when Dreamworks formed and they released Deep Impact and Antz, which was eerily similar to Disney's Armageddon and A Bugs Life, which was most likely to the K in Dreamworks SKG, Jeffery Katzenberg's former involvement in Disney? Well, Dreamworks is at it again, only they're stealing from their own material. Shrek 2, the sequel to the smash 2001 hit, is basically an animated version of Meet the Parents, which, yes, was released by Dreamworks. But, then again, what else were they going to have happen to Shrek? Have him go to war? Be separated from Fiona while fighting the Jabberwocky? So I suppose this formula works, and, with some of the new characters, and our old favorites, this turns out to be quite an entertaining movie.
Shrek 2 starts off with the "valiant" Prince Charming (Everett), undertaking an arduous journey to get to his Princess Fiona (Diaz). But, of course, he's too late, only finding a fox in Fiona's bed, while she's out enjoying her honeymoon with her hubby Shrek (Myers). When they get back home to Shrek's beloved swamp, he not only finds Donkey (Murphy) but a bunch of royal people who summon the happy couple to Far Away Land (priceless!) to Meet Fiona's Parents (Cleese and Andrews) and get their blessing. Of course, the proud parents are unaware of their daughter's husband, and their daughter's change in hue.
One of the many things I loved about the first movie, was the re-introduction of many of the classical "fairy tale" characters. Shrek could easily be an X-Men-like franchise, simply because there are SO many more characters that could be introduced. We only got a few new characters here, mainly Antonio Banderas' Puss in Boots, Aron Warner's Wolf and Larry King's the Ugly Stepsister. Yes, CNN Larry King, voicing the Ugly Stepsister. Again, priceless! But while the first movie was mainly for kids, but still appealed to adults, it almost seems as if the sequel reverses this. The most blatant example of this is the, ummm, choice of Pinnochio's undergarments...Sure, I laughed, but I was also thinking "That's just wrong..." Let's just say a lot of the "adult" humor isn't quite as subtle as the first movie, but still...it's pretty damn funny.
All the voices were perfectly done, which isn't a surprise from Mike Myers as Shrek, Cameron Diaz as Fiona and Eddie Murphy as Donkey. They did a wonderful job in the first movie, and they mirrored their performances in the sequel as well. If you loved them in the first movie, which apparently everyone did, you'll love them here as well. But the new characters really surprised me, especially Antonio Banderas who stole the show as the voice of Puss in Boots. I never thought I'd say Antonio Banderas stole any show at all, but he is just magnificent here as the frisky feline. They don't show much of him in the trailer, and I thought, originally, his character would be the one that would most likely falter on screen. But his voice was just perfect for this character, mainly because he's spoofing his own Mask of Zorro character, and this is probably his best role ever that doesn't have him carrying a guitar. Ruppert Everett also has a voice perfect for his character, Prince Charming. He can do that snotty British thing to perfection, and, even though we don't hear from him much, he's pretty good. John Cleese and Julie Andrews are pretty good as well, as the King and Queen, but Absolutely Fabulous alum Jennifer Saunders was somewhat irritating as the Fairy Godmother. I don't know why she had to sing all the damn time, really. She's pretty good when she's "wicked" but even then she takes it too far sometimes.
I think the script might have suffered a bit, from the loss of writers Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio, who also wrote last summer's smash hit Pirates of the Carribbean, but there is still some great material here. The script, written by David N. Weiss, J. David Stern and, from the first movie, Joe Stillman, added in some nice references to many famous movies including Lord of the Rings, Spider-Man, Mission: Impossible, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Alien, and many many more. But probably the best of all was an absoloutely hilarious spoof of the TV show Cops, dubbed Knights, where knights arrest Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots. That part alone is more than worth the price of admission. But the problem with the script is besides the new characters, there really isn't anything new here. There is the same conflict about Shrek not being "right" for Fiona, spells that end at midnight, and they don't really do anything new with it, besides add in Prince Charming to solidify the old conflict. There is a nice little twist at the end, with Fiona's father, that explains a lot, but still, they could've done more with the main conflict.
Directors Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon create another, visually-wonderful world here, with some great graphics and effects. They are great with their voice talent, and the movie flows very nicely.
Shrek 2 is a movie about showing your true colors, in more ways than one. While the filmmakers try as valinatly as Prince Charming does to win the Princess, Shrek 2 still is just barely not as good as the first movie. They really don't add any new conflict...they just put a face on it, in Prince Charming. And while it's not quite as magical as the first movie, there is still plenty to keep you in your seat, in this very entertaining flick.