Reviewed By Preston Jones
Posted 02/23/02 05:52:17

"What's big and green and worth about 250 million bucks?"
5 stars (Awesome)

These days, animated films can entertain both children and adults, a relatively new development in animation. Up until the early ‘90s, Disney pretty much had the market cornered on animated family films. But with the arrival of Warner Bros.’ and 20th Century Fox’s new animation divisions, Disney’s domain came under fire.

The ball really got rolling with the release of 1995’s {b]Toy Story, which was a Disney release and the first fully computer animated (or CG) feature length film. Soon, nearly all of the major studios were vying for computer-animated films.
With each progressive film, the level of technical achievement rose. Each film became more lifelike, less cartoony. One of the pinnacles in recent computer animated features is the 2001 film Shrek.
Adapted from a children’s book by William Steig, Shrek centers on an ugly green ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) who prefers solitude to the company of others. William Steig's delightfully fractured fairy tale is the right stuff for this computer-animated adaptation full of verve and wit.
The title character (voiced by Mike Myers) is an agreeable enough ogre who wants to live his days in peace. When the diminutive Lord Farquaad of Duloc (John Lithgow) evicts local fairy-tale creatures (including the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and the Gingerbread Man), they settle in the ogre's swamp and Shrek wants answers from Farquaad.
A quest of sorts starts for Shrek and his new pal, a talking donkey (Eddie Murphy) where battles have to be won and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) must be rescued from a dragon lair.
Upon rescuing Fiona, Shrek and Donkey must then transport her back to Duloc and Farquaad. However, a secret of Fiona’s may change Shrek’s mind about her before all is said and done.
At times, the material is stronger than most animated fare (especially when Myers and Murphy get going), but it's the humor that makes “Shrek” a winner. The mild potty humor is fun enough for 10-year-olds but will never embarrass their parents.
Shrek is ultimately that rare bird that manages to entertain both very young children and adults as well. There are just as many jokes in Shrek for the adults as the kids (“Say, do you think he’s compensating for something?”).
The cast of voices is pitch-perfect, with every character perfectly captured. Myers’ gruff Scottish brogue was actually not the first choice for Shrek’s voice. Originally, the late Chris Farley had been slated for the role and had even done some preliminary voice work, but Myers stepped in upon his death. Murphy’s reading of Donkey is some of the best comedy onscreen this year; his neurotic, hyperactive performance is a treasure. Diaz and Lithgow both acquit themselves well with neither stretching too far out of their range.
The CG animation in Shrek is absolutely incredible. The lifelike detail that every single part of the frame holds is truly amazing. It’s been reported that it took the animators nearly four years to fully realize Shrek and that time definitely shows in the end result. This film also sets the bar higher for Disney and Pixar’s upcoming release Monsters, Inc., set to be released around Thanksgiving 2001.

Shrek is a film that most childless folks might not seek out if only because they think it won’t appeal to them. Don’t be fooled: increasingly these days, studios realize that the parents, and not just the kids, want to be entertained at the movies. It is with this realization that Hollywood is becoming dedicated to creating a more fully realized film. Don’t miss Shrek, one of the best films of the year.

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