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DreamWorks Animation Countdown 8: ‘Shrek 2’

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shrek-2

The year 2004 brought a mixed bag of animated films, with everything from Pixar’s The Incredibles to Walt Disney Animation Studio’s Home on the Range to Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle. And what did 2004 bring for DreamWorks Animation? The debut of its very first sequel, Shrek 2.

Shrek 2 starts out pretty much right where the first Shrek movie left off, picking up the story after Shrek and Fiona’s wedding. Shortly after they return from their honeymoon, Shrek (Mike Myers), Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and their friend Donkey (Eddie Murphy) receive an invitation to travel to the land of Far Far Away to visit the king and queen, Fiona’s parents (Julie Andrews and John Cleese). They run into trouble, however, when they learn that Fiona’s father has no intention of accepting an ogre as his son-in-law.

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The king turns to Fiona’s nefarious fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders), who likewise wants to get Shrek out of the picture, so her narcissistic son, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), can marry Fiona instead. Shrek and Donkey soon realize Fiona’s father’s dislike of them is far more serious than it seems when they find out he has hired a rapier-wielding hit man, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to take care of them.

After teaming up with Puss in Boots, the trio runs into even more trouble when a “Happily Ever After” potion transforms Shrek and Donkey’s appearances.  As Shrek deals with his own insecurities about not being good enough for Fiona, he’s forced to try and set things right before the Fairy Godmother can trick Fiona into falling in love with Prince Charming instead!

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While the Shrek franchise has started to feel a little like it’s run its course, with sequel after sequel being released, there are a lot of things to love about Shrek 2. Even though Shrek 2 is heavily satirical and sometimes pretty ridiculous, its still able to maintain an intellectual and emotional storyline. The film’s success at telling an emotional story is something that sets it apart from other animated comedies. Both the first and second Shrek movies deal heavily with the theme of self-doubt and show characters faced with the pressure to conform to social norms of behavior and physical appearance. And both films succeed at getting the viewer to care about the emotional struggles the characters face.

Although some reviewers believe the comedy in Shrek 2 just isn’t able to capture the feel of the original movie, I think Shrek 2 succeeds in delivering the same fun, satirical humor the franchise is known for. For example, I love the city of Far Far Away. Everything from the “Far Far Away” Hollywood sign to the “Farbucks” coffee shops on every corner to the “KnightsCops rip off where Puss in Boots gets arrested made me laugh when I first saw this movie thirteen years ago and still makes me laugh to this day.

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Another area where I feel Shrek 2 really succeeds where many sequels fall short is in the introduction of new characters to the series. Puss in Boots, Fairy Godmother, and Prince Charming all have important roles to play in the story. Each character feels well developed and easily falls into place among the cast of characters from the first movie.

Overall, where many animated sequels fall short, Shrek 2 succeeds. While most animation fans cringe at the word “sequel”, it’s worth keeping in mind that while Shrek 2 might seem like an ugly ogre on the outside, on the inside (past alllll those onion layers) it’s a lovable, funny film with a great message.

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What do you think of DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek 2? How do you think it holds up against other animated sequels? Let us know in the comments!

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About Hannah Wilkes

Hannah is an animation-lover currently living in Southern California and working at Warner Bros. Entertainment in Burbank, CA. When she’s not working, she likes to spend her time watching movies with her friends, listening to podcasts, going to Disneyland, and Instagram stalking French bulldog puppies. Follow her on Instagram at hannahelizabethx92.

  • Fadi Antwan

    Like it or not, this is one of the most iconic animated movies ever made, and one of the most fun, I might add. Every scene in it is gold. Even my parents who dismiss anything animated as kiddie stuff can watch this movie over and over and over again without getting bored. If you don’t enjoy it, you must be a sourpuss or something, lol.

    • Hannah Wilkes

      I agree! It’s definitely one you can watch over and over again without getting tired of it.

  • Alex Beezley

    Although this film is funnier than the first, I don’t think it is as strong of a film overall. I was not able to connect with the characters emotionally as much as in the original, and I think that the story is a bit of a retread with new plot elements added in for good measure. I do think that this is a good film that is better than the vast majority of animated sequels, and the animation itself received a noticeable upgrade. I just don’t think that it is the best in the franchise, as many seem to claim.

  • Shrek 2 was a fun movie with some very iconic scenes. The plot was also clever.
    However, I didn’t like this one as much as the original because it lacked the emotion
    of the first film, not to mention all the pop culture references that felt out of place.

  • Dan Siciliano

    I really enjoy “Shrek 2”, but am I the only one who prefers the original “Shrek” over the sequels?
    P.S.: “I hate Mondays.” Favorite quote of the movie ever since I was still in junior high school.

    • Hannah Wilkes

      Love that quote! There are so many great references to other films and characters in Shrek and Shrek 2. It’s one of the things I love about the movies!

    • Manuel Orozco

      Does it seem like a coincidence that the Garfield movie came out during that same summer of 04?

  • Manuel Orozco

    Shrek 2 was even better than the original! It’s a sequel that fulfills a rare purpose of retaining the first movie’s magic while at the same time sprinkling more heart and soul into the story. Julie Andrews John Cleese and Antonio Bandreas proved to be worthy additions to the team of heroes!

    • Hannah Wilkes

      Yes! They did a great job with the new additions to the voice cast in this one 👍🏼

      • Manuel Orozco

        Yes but those three in particular I mentioned. I remember being excited for Julie Andrews the most because who doesn’t love Mary Poppins. But I didn’t see the Sound of Music in its entirety until I was 13.

  • Omg me and my sis were ALL OVER THIS MOVIE GROWING UP!! We adored the music, the humor, the characters ahh I think our own copy is just so used its starting to show its age we just loved this movie so much!! As much as I loved the first one, I just feel like this second one really takes it further in all the right ways and is just so much funnier! Ahh totally makes me wanna watch it again for old times sakes! 😀

    • Hannah Wilkes

      You should definitely re-watch it! I did before I wrote this article. For as many pop culture references as the film has, it really holds up after all these years.

  • Amber Dvorak

    You just reminded me about everything I loved about this film, Hannah! As much respect as I have for the original, I do remember enjoying Shrek 2 more – it basically took all that was great from the first film and amplified it. The expanded cast of characters is well thought out and new elements are perfectly integrated with the old. This is a fine example of an animated sequel done right, although I do wish they had cut the franchise short after this, as it all seemed to go downhill from here (in my opinion)…

    • Manuel Orozco

      Well Shrek 3 and 4 were on par with the original to me. But 4 lacked the original’s satiric nature, went darker and edgier and did an unncessary change in Rumpelstilskin.

      • Amber Dvorak

        I actually stopped after watching the third Shrek. Is the fourth film worth a watch? Darker and edgier seems like an odd choice.

        • Manuel Orozco

          Well basically if you ever seen the holiday classic It’s A Wonderful Life, basically Shrek is going through this mid life crisis one year after the events of the previous movie. And his journey is kind of like George Baily discovering what the most wonderful people in his life would be like if he never existed. What I mean by darker and edgier is the story is more emotional

        • Manuel Orozco

          Sorry I said basically twice. I have a habit of repeating certain words.

    • Hannah Wilkes

      Thanks! 😄 I don’t care much for most of the films in the franchise after Shrek 2 either. I’m glad they were able to keep the spirit and humor of the original movie in the sequel.