Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Shrek



USA 2001
directors : Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
script : Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, Roger S H Schulman
(based on book Shrek! by William Steig)
producers include : Jeffrey Katzenberg, Elliott, Rossio
(CGI animated) production designer : James Hegedus
music : Harry Gregson-Williams
lead actors : Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
89 minutes

Theres a brand new category at the Oscars next March – Best Animated Feature – and look no further for the winner. Shrek is this years Toy Story, a dazzling blast of computer-generated magic that’s stomped all over Pearl Harbor at the box-office. An encouraging sign: how many megablockbusters have this much intelligence, not to mention a soundtrack that finds room for both The Proclaimers and John Cale?

The only people the picture will disappoint are horror fans expecting a Shadow of the Vampire spinoff this Shrek is a lime green ogre who lives in a dismal swamp. Hes happy enough, until his turf is invaded by hundreds of fairytale characters the three blind mice, Pinocchio, etc – exiled from the fairy kingdom of petulant Prince Farquaad (Lithgow). If Shrek can find a suitable bride for the prince, hell get his peace and quiet back, so he sets off to rescue the feisty Princess Fiona (Diaz) from a firebreathing dragon, accompanied by a wisecracking donkey (Murphy)

The talking donkey isn’t the only conventional element in this supposed anti-fairytale. There are songs, a happy ending, the usual shenanigans as Shreks quest unfolds – in fact, the whole thing strongly recalls the criminally underappreciated Emperors New Groove. But Shrek has a surreal humour all its own: each viewer will have their favourite moments (watch for the singing bluebird, the accordion-playing Friar Tuck, the giant false head at the castle entrance, and the frog/snake balloons) but the scene in which Farquaad interrogates a Gingerbread Man is an instant classic one of the funniest and hands-down best sequences youll see in a cinema this year.

13th June, 2001

by Neil Young