Shrek 2, released in 2004, attempts to pick up where the original Shrek movie left off without slipping from the original’s very high standards. It mostly accomplishes this. While Shrek 2 is not quite as good as the original, it is a fine movie, filled with clever plot lines, funny characters and an appeal that is wide without falling into lowest common denominator status.
Mike Myers is back as Shrek and Cameron Diaz is back as his bride Fiona. As the original did, Shrek 2 turns conventional fairy tale expectations around and puts a very funny and human twist to it all.
What marriage is truly consummated until the first fight with the inlaws? As Shrek 2 begins in earnest, we find Shrek in an argument with his new father in law, King Harold (voiced by John Cleese), who had expected his daughter to marry Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett) instead of an ugly and oafish ogre. It doesn’t help matters that King Harold and his wife (voiced by Julie Andrews) are horrified to see that their daughter is now an ogress as well…a fact that they clearly blame Shrek for.
Shrek and his father in law disagree about how their family should be raised and Fiona flees the two and locks herself away.
What happens next is a series of events that at times become a little too predictable (Shrek is turned into a handsome man for a while) and somehow seems a little less than true to the original unpredictable nature of the first Shrek.
Fiona’s Fairy Godmother, though, provides a perfect foil against the Fairy Godmothers of lore as she uses her powers and potions not for complete good, but rather to try and manipulate Fiona into leaving this ugly ogre Shrek and marrying Prince Charming. Shrek, meanwhile, reads the worst into passages from Fiona’s diary (what fairy tale has an ogre snooping through his new bride’s diary?), and the combination of the magical and the all too human nature of the ogre Shrek combine to set the stage for a difficult set of circumstances. One of the weak points here is that ultimately, we all pretty much know how this is going to end, it’s just a question of accounting at some point.
But in the final analysis, the well written and funny dialogue helps to save the movie’s first rate status and Eddie Murphy’s return as Donkey is as hilarious…maybe even more hilarious…than his role in the first Shrek.
Shrek 2 was the highest grossing movie of 2004 and received generally favorable critical reviews. While it was not the best of the Shrek movies (that designation belongs to the first one), it deserved its success and platitudes.