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Shrek 2 (***)
Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
Written by J. David Stem, Joe Stillman, and David N. Weiss, based on characters created by William Steig
Shrek 2
Principal Cast
Mike Myers -- Shrek (voice)
Eddie Murphy -- Donkey (voice)
Cameron Diaz -- Princess Fiona (voice)
Julie Andrews -- Queen (voice)
Antonio Banderas -- Puss In Boots (voice)
John Cleese -- King (voice)
Rupert Everett -- Prince Charming (voice)
Jennifer Saunders -- Fairy Godmother (voice)
Aron Warner -- Wolf (voice)
Kelly Asbury -- Page/Elf/Nobleman/Nobleman's Son (voice)
Cody Cameron -- Pinocchio/Three Pigs (voice)
Conrad Vernon -- Gingerbread Man/Cedric/Announcer/Muffin Man/Mongo (voice)
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Better than I thought it would be. Not as good as the first one. It has some laughs, and is emotionally honest, which is rare in a cartoon. (Emotional dishonesty is why all of the Disney direct-to-video sequels are such duds. Watch for Bambi II -- The Death of Felene.) But there are some missteps. Why does Puss change loyalties so abruptly? Since when were the pigs and the mice real friends of Shrek?

So, nothing really wrong with Shrek 2, but it does not break the rules the way Shrek did.

I have to admit that I didn't really appreciate Shrek until the second time I saw it, and so I will probably give Shrek 2 a second chance. One thing I am sure of, none of the music in Shrek 2 comes anywhere close to the Leonard Cohen song used in Shrek.

When did it become compulsory that an animated fantasy must be wall-to-wall anachronism? The classic Bugs Bunny cartoons played anachronism for all it was worth -- Earl of Heins, Sir Satchmo of Armstrong -- but the first feature length cartoon to be a big hit using popular culture references for its humor was Aladin, with Robin Williams riffing on everything from William F. Buckley to the Nativity. There was a little of that in The Lion King. Pocahontas was played straight. The Hunchback of Notre Dame would have been a better film without the gargoyles' anachronistic gags. I think Mulan was the last animated feature to be more or less entirely true to the historical period and culture it portrayed. Then came Tarzan. Great film! I didn't mind too much that the elephants knew about South America. But Tarzan was the last great Disney feature. With The Emperor's New Groove, anachronism reigned, and has for the last four years. If there has been an animated feature since then that did not rely heavily, and often heavy handedly, on popular culture references for its humor, I can't think what it was.

And, of course, anachronism is the main source of humor in Shrek, so there is nothing wrong with it being the focus of Shrek 2. Sometimes it's funny. Sometimes, as with the Mission: Impossible bit, it is too obvious to be funny. And in some future cartoon, it would be nice to see history played straight. And, no, when I talk about playing history straight, I'm not talking about Achilles' new love interest in Troy.

Don't leave before the very nice early credit cookie. And please, tell the manager for me, "If you want us to turn off our cell phones, then the least you can do is keep the house lights down during the credit cookie."

Copyright © 2004 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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