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Saturday, May 19, 2001

'Shrek' is a treat for adults, children

Movie's animation will keep the kids entertained

Contributed photo
Shrek (right) and Donkey are in the new movie ‘Shrek.’ Shrek’s voice is done by Mike Myers and Donkey, his companion, is voiced by Eddie Murphy.
With his daunting Mork-like antennae, bulging belly and toothy grin, Shrek is a misleadingly daunting creature - but it's not the children who will be intimidated.
   Some adults may stay away from the new film because of its fairy-tale basis, but the film is witty and accessible enough for both.
   Shrek (Mike Myers) is a repugnant, self-loathing ogre who, like other social misfits, prefers to wallow alone in the silent solace of his swamp home.
   When his home is suddenly invaded by other fairy-tale creatures - including three blind mice, three displaced (and little) pigs, a big, bad wolf and a wisecracking Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) - Shrek goes to Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow), who forcefully herd the animals to Shrek's swamp.
   After bearing witness to Shrek's brute strength, Farquaad promises Shrek his land back if the ogre retrieves a beleaguered princess in a faraway castle protected by a dragon. Shrek agrees to rescue the maiden even if it is part of Farquaad's twisted plan to become a monarch of his Disneyland of an empire.
   After rescuing Princess Fiona (voiced by - and seemingly modeled after - Cameron Diaz), Donkey finds out that, because of a spell, she's a beautiful human by day and a disheveled monster by night - but she'll be permanently beautiful after she kisses her true love for the first time. She decides to meet and marry Farquaad the following day before daybreak to break the spell.
   On top of the satire and the smart perspective on the universal theme of not fitting in, the spectacular animation elevates "Shrek" to the level of the original "Toy Story" and a handful of other films that have boldly pushed the technology to the best of its capabilities.
   The animation from PDT/DreamWorks (which also brought "Antz" to the big screen) is wondrous, and just watching the swaying, fluid movements of the animated character walking through a field of sunflowers or pouring a glass of milk is a treat.
   The writing, based on the children's book by William Steig, has references to myriad fairy tales and parodies everything from "The Matrix" (of course) to "Lord of the Dance;" the smart dialogue rarely speaks down to the children but doesn't hesitate to showcase bathroom humor at times.
   "Shrek" expertly weaves multiple life lessons into the same story, and no matter what your age, you'll leave the theater somewhat touched by an ogre.

Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688 or by e-mail at

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