Shrek 2 (2004)

Rating: B+

Dir: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury & Conrad Vernon
Star (voice): Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Cleese

The wild horses were out in force, to drag me kicking and screaming into the theatre: I found the first one irritating, smug and self-indulgent. This, however, is superior on just about every level: after the opening, there’s little aggravating Myers/Murphy banter, the pop-culture references are far less blatant, and the subsidiary characters are excellent – particularly cool was Antonio Banderas’ Puss In Boots. This time, the plot revolves around Shrek and Fiona’s trip to her parents, who are less than impressed with Shrek, and plot to have her paired off with Prince Charming. It’s nothing new, but is executed so well that it’s impossible to dislike – and, believe me, I went in there with every intention of trying.

Particular highlights were jokes no-one else in the audience seemed to get, such as the “crusade wound” of John Cleese’s king (Fawlty Towers, anyone?). The satirical targets are mostly recent, so the film will likely date as poorly as the soundtrack, and making fun of Hollywood is pretty lazy. But the likes of Alien and even Blazing Saddles get nods, and the film has enough heart to succeed as a genuine fairy-tale. My sole regret is that Shrek didn’t keep the form he assumes for the second half of the film – so much for the alleged moral that what you look like doesn’t matter. Otherwise, however, the Cops parody alone makes it worth seeing.