Shrek

Shrek, a screwball fable from debuting directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, also looks good enough to justify some preening. Based on a children's book by William Steig, the film represents a new peak in computer animation from PDI/ DreamWorks — the folks who brought you Antz. But this time they've added humans to the mix. Shrek, voiced by Mike Myers with the same Scottish burr he gave Fat Bastard in the last Austin Powers flick, is a big, green, stinking ogre who sticks close to his home in the swamps to avoid people who call him a big, green, stinking ogre. But then the badass Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow), a three-foot-tall bully with a giant ego, demands that Shrek rescue Farquaad's feisty intended, Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), from a fire-breathing lady dragon who has her mojo going for Shrek's pal Donkey (brayed to comic perfection by Eddie Murphy). Insiders will tell you that Farquaad is DreamWorks chief Jeffrey Katzenberg's revenge on his former Disney boss Michael Eisner. What, just because Farquaad's kingdom is a theme park with turnstiles and his subjects include Pinocchio, Cinderella and Snow White? Forget the in-jokes, the moral messages about beauty being skin-deep (No! Really?) and the rock soundtrack. By the time Smash Mouth sing the Monkees' hit "I'm a Believer," you'll be a believer, too. What matters about Shrek is the wonder of the photorealistic animation — only God can make a tree, but a million digital polygons come damn close — the humor of the storytelling and the way the characters touch your heart without making you puke. Cannes judges might blanch at the product tie-ins (green ketchup from Heinz — puh-leese!), but Shrek is a world-class charmer that could even seduce the Academy when it hands out the first official animation Oscar next year. A hermit hero whose farts kill fish, the first smart ass to talk onscreen since Ace Ventura, a hidden dragon of a princess who sings off-key and a villain based on Disney's CEO — what's not to like?

From The Archives Issue 870: June 7, 2001