Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Love, a magical kingdom, an evil Prince Charming, a fairy godmother, a cute kitten... Shrek 2 aims so much at pleasing the girls that you have to wonder just how disappointed the first film's boy-audience were with this.

Newlywed Shrek is in a grumpy mood, ordering his bride about and insulting her parents. While we can't empathise with his discontent, we can with Fiona's dad's – he wasn’t even invited to the wedding. Maybe they shouldn't have rushed into things so?

Like the first movie, the plot is quite weak, especially Fiona's acceptance that Prince Charming is her husband in disguise. How many of the obvious questions didn't she ask him? Perhaps this was another symptom of their getting married so quickly.

The King, transformed into a frog for doing the right thing at the end, really looked like he needed be kissed and returned to normal by the queen, especially since he'd drunk Fiona's potion earlier too.

One area where this film shines through though is in the casting. I'd been hoping for the return of John Lithgow, however John Cleese fills the role of barmy villain perfectly.

Then there's the fairy godmother who magically floats in and commands all the furniture about. I was straining to hear whether this was indeed Julie Andrews, especially when she then got a magical song too, but alas no, it was Jennifer Saunders. A little disappointingly Andrews was in this film, but as the queen instead. I guess it was a Princess Diaries thing.

In fact, despite the land of "Far Far Away" being a terrific parody of Hollywood, the characters' accents are distinctly British. Along with Cleese, Saunders, Andrews, and arguably Scottish-sounding Shrek himself, even Jonathan Ross managed to sneak back onto the BBC over Christmas, playing the ugly stepsister. (no idea where Fiona got her US accent from then)

But here's the thing – it turned out afterwards that I had been watching the UK version. In the US, the ugly stepsister was voiced by Larry King.

Whu...? What the heck is that all about? Did they think that British kids wouldn't be able to understand the presence of an American broadcaster in the film? Did the Kiwi version have the ugly stepsister played by John Campbell???

In fact according to Wikipedia, we also got Kate Thornton in place of Joan Rivers! Ooh, I don't like that practice at all...

I guess I should point-out that it's all a bit lost on a TV station that cuts-out the closing credits...

My favourite character in here though had to be the Zorro-esque cat, played to purrfection by Antonio Banderas. He must have been top of the list. Thank God he hadn't been replaced by Jeremy Clarkson.

Despite everything, a fun movie. My favourite joke? Well it would have to be the real-life police-chase TV show, using hot-air balloons...

(US version (presumably) available here)
Related reviews:

Shrek The Third
Shrek The Halls
Shrek Forever After


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