Shrek 2 - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shrek 2 Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 22, 2009
Although not as original and smart as the first film, Shrek 2 is equally funny and irreverent, introducing new adorable secondary characters in an excellent animation that never ceases to be a lot of fun for both adults and kids.
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ November 16, 2014
Making a sequel to Shrek was both a complete no-brainer and a cause for great concern. The first film was a huge hit, taking more than eight times its budget at the box office and winning over critics and audiences alike with its intelligent storytelling and witty script. But with the continued success of PIXAR, first with Monsters, Inc. and then Finding Nemo, you would have been within your rights to doubt that any sequel could compete.

Fortunately, Shrek 2 is a great second outing, thanks in part to the continued presence of Andrew Adamson behind the camera, as a co-writer now as well as co-director. The film may not be quite as edgy as its predecessor, perhaps due to Dreamworks head honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg wanting to play it safe to secure further outings. But the film is every bit as funny as the first one, if not slightly moreso, and continues to develop and deepen its unique fairytale world.

Making a sequel to any film can go one of two ways, depending on the attitude of the people behind it and the potential present in the characters. On the one hand, the film can repeat all the basic rhythms of the first film, either with the main character being replaced (so that the journey appears to be new) or by the stakes being raised (so that it feels like the action is more significant). Occasionally this approach works wonders - as on Evil Dead 2 - but often it results in tired, formulaic offerings, such as the many straight-to-video sequels produced by Disney.

On the other hand, the film can attempt to tell a new story, with the characters undergoing a new challenge and more characteristics of their universe being revealed. This approach is harder to get right, but when things come together the results regularly outclass their predecessors. The Empire Strikes Back, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and The Rescuers Down Under are all examples of this approach working well - and now we can add Shrek 2 to that list.

The basic principle that operates in Shrek 2 is the same one that operated in Shrek: taking familiar aspects of the fairy tale genre, and turning them on their heads with plenty of humour. But rather than simply create Lord Farquaad Mark II, the obstacles facing Shrek are different and perhaps more nuanced. Not only that, but Shrek is a slightly different person (or ogre), having married Fiona at the end of the first film.

Both of the main villains are as entertainingly subversive as Farquaad, or any characters from the first film. The Fairy Godmother (played brillaintly by Jennifer Saunders) is not a benevolent aid to our heroes, but a scheming, manipulative, power-hungry despot wanting to rule the kingdom through her son (not unlike Livia in I, Claudius). Magic is not the universal force for good that it is in Disney's Cinderella; the Fairy Godmother is more like her Mafia namesake, granting favours in return for power and influence.

As for Prince Charming, he anything but lips up to his name. While many of his Disney counterparts are painted as (occasionally bland) ideals of masculinity, Charming is vain, self-centred, effeminate and a total Mummy's boy. Rupert Everett's clipped yet world-weary delivery perfectly conveys the frustration of the character, whose ego and sense of entitlement take a severe blow over the running time.

As far as the story of Shrek 2 goes, it's a natural continuation of the first film in terms of theme and plot. Beneath all its fairy tale trappings and pop culture references, Shrek is a film about inner beauty, the hard work that goes into relationships, and why the rules of a given world aren't always fair. Bringing Fiona's parents into the mix is a logical decision, adding a new obstacle or source of prejudice with the twist of wanting acceptance from said source for the sake of those one loves.

Disney films often get accused of presenting a shallow view of what constitutes beauty; in The Little Mermaid, for instance, the female lead signs away her most distinctive features just so she can get a husband. Shrek 2 does the opposite, using a radical physical transformation to show how little such a transformation changes, and how little such a change matters. The filmakers deserve enormous credit for following through with this idea, and it resonates really strongly right up to the end.

It's arguable that because Shrek 2 has a more tongue-in-cheek, parodic sensibility, it can get away with such a heartwarming message purely by virtue of not looking or sounding like a Disney film. In reality, it earns the right to do this by developing the characters we love in a genuine and convincing way. Fiona has become so comfortable in her ogre self that it makes sense for her to scream when she first sees her human face in the mirror. Likewise, Shrek may still be bad-tempered and cantankerous, but he's more noble in the causes for which he fights, and a little more cunning in the fights that he chooses to pick.

What this means is that the increased amount of reference humour in Shrek 2 doesn't jar like it does in later Dreamworks efforts. There are some cracking reference gags here, whether it's Prince Charming's slow-motion hair flick (Heartbreakers), the wire rescue of our main characters (Mission: Impossible) or Donkey fearing that he will melt when it rains (The Wizard of Oz). And that's not to mention all the pops at brands like Starbucks, Baskin Robbins and Versace. But like the best work of Aardman, these touches or little sight gags take a back seat to the plot, and the film still works whatever age or however culture-literate you may be.

On top of everything else, Shrek 2 is really, really funny. Many of the best gags are those which are completely unexpected, such as Puss in Boots' hairball or Pinocchio's brief stint as a real boy. Others are the product of really good editing, such as the dinner table sequence (a nod to Rocky Horror) or the parallel conversations when Shrek first meets Fiona's parents. The big set-pieces are inventive and fast-paced, and the film is never afraid to take its characters down a peg or two by things not climaxing quite as we might expect.

The performances in Shrek are all extremely good. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz remain as convincing and enjoyable as before, with Adamson and his co-directors managing to focus the two male leads. Of the newcomers, Jennifer Saunders is very impressive and John Cleese is a very fine choice for King Harold. But of course, the show is stolen by Antonio Banderas, who ribs on his own work in The Mask of Zorro to make Puss in Boots truly unforgetable.

Shrek 2 is every bit as good as the original, and may even be slightly funnier in terms of the quantity and quality of its jokes. Despite being more rounded than its edgy predecessor, this is still a very intelligent offering, populated by interesting ideas and a host of compelling characters. In hindsight it's a shame that the series couldn't continue to progress in such a positive way after this instalment, but Shrek 2 remains a sterling effort, both in this context and on its own terms.
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2008
Rarely a CGI-based sequel ever is seen. But Shrek 2 delivers in more ways than one. Fantastic layout and raunchy story with a blend of colorful cast-mates, Shrek 2 goes above and beyond the realm of CGI-films. 4.5/5
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2006
As good as the first
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2008
The Original Shrek was brilliant. It looked amazing, had a great storyline, and amazing dialogue and was loved by both kids and adults alike. Shrek 2 really was not a grand sequel and paved the way for the even further stagnation provided by Shrek 3 and 4.
Directors Cat
Super Reviewer
½ August 16, 2011
To me it seems like they abandoned the idea of a good story in Shrek 2. But they made up for it for its numerous hilarious moments, colourful supporting characters and its undeniable charm. A winner for children I know that much.
murphmann93
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2008
They should have just stopped at 'Shrek' This was ok, but it had nothing on the first one. A slight let down, but in some scenes very funny. In a way it's nice to follow the story of him and Fiona and it's nice to see that Donkey is just as hilarious as ever! Average film.
DreamExtractor
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2011
Very good work from Dreamworks, a worthy sequel to the great first. It was funny, cool, and just as good if not better than the first.
Super Reviewer
May 19, 2011
It feels like... it feels like the first movie didn't end. And I mean that in a good way. The humor and quality of jokes are just as good as the original, as is the story. It definitely keeps the integrity of the first or maybe even more? Shrek's relationship with Fiona feels very real.

So really, you'd only hate this if you didn't enjoy the first movie. Otherwise you have no reason to pass this ball of sequential "fun" up.
TomBowler
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2009
A great sequel and fantastic addition to the series. Full review later.
jamers2011
Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2010
Not as good as the first, but still a very entertaining and funny film. A decent sequel.
FilmFanatik
Super Reviewer
June 6, 2007
Why? Oh why? Why did they ruin a perfectly good story by making sequels? Oh well, that's Hollywood for you.
michael e.
Super Reviewer
December 22, 2010
its way better than the first and better than the third but not nearly as good as the 4th
movieguru12
Super Reviewer
December 8, 2007
A good sequel to an brilliant animated movie :)
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2010
First time I fell in love with Shrek series of movies. Shrek is one of my all time cartoon favorite.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2010
B-
erika250
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2010
I like shrek better
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2007
Very good animation movie.
Movie Monster
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2010
Shrek 2 is a great sequel but I like the first one better. In my opinion, when a movie sequel introduces new characters, they don't seem to be that likeable. But when Shrek 2 added new characters like Prince Charmming, Fiona's parents, and Puss in Boots, they make them loveable and make them shine when they are on screen. Even their voice acting is good!

Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) oficially became my favorite Shrek character after seeing this. I really don't want to be a hater but I don't think Shrek 2 should hold the record for highest-grossing animated film. The place should really go to some Pixar movie. Despite that, Shrek 2 is fun and charming. It's even fun to watch it on DVD.

It feels like yesterday when I saw this at the movie. The popcorn tasted good but smelt like warm milk.
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