Earlier this month RC from Strange Culture made a post about next Summer's trilogies (Pirates 3, Spidey 3, Bourne 3, Chris Tucker and 'that funny Asian Man' 3, Oceans 13, Shrek 3). I made a comment in the replies that I wished the Shrek franchise was dead (plz). He sent me an e-mail stating "Yikes, that's strong feelings...why do you want the Shrek franchise to die??" so I thought I'd respond on the blog cause... ya know, if I'm gonna vent about the abomination that is the Shrek movies, I should do so for your reading value.
Now, the original Shrek isn't that bad. I give it a comfy C grade. My first problem with it (and the sequel) is Cameron Diaz. Something Dreamworks Animation seems incapable of understanding is that STAR POWER does not equal GOOD VOCAL TALENT. Now, Eddie Murphy is enjoyable here (although I much prefer Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo thanks) and Mike Myers, as annoying as he is elsewhere, is only frustrating for the last few scenes where his voice started to grate. John Lithgow was probably the best cast voice here strangely. However, Cameron Diaz does NOT have a good voice for animation. For animation, your voice needs to be, not entirely unique, but, ya know, distinguishable from a million other voices. And if your voice is very "everyman" (say, like Albert Brooks in Finding Nemo) you need to add power to it. Add emotion. Add CHARACTER. I just thought it was Cameron Diaz.
Then there is the big giant massive hypocrisy that the film drowns in. First the blatant bludgeoning of Disney. Yes, Disney is ripe for joke-making but my god, this was (and I don't really use this term often for something like this) downright disrespectful. Yes, it's fine to poke some jokes at Disney but there gets to be a point where they're just making fun for the sake of it. Did they not realise that if it weren't for Disney (and Pixar) that Shrek wouldn't even exist. So, yes, I don't care two hoots if people make fun of Disney, but when an entire movie is just a big slap in the face to a company such as that it gets tiresome and offensive. I hated this.
Then there is the hypocrisy revolving around the character voiced by John Lithgow. Incase you didn't get it the first time around - HE'S SHORT!!!!!!!! OMG that's funny right? Yeah, it's hilarious. But, you see, if he were a grotesque ogre that'd be alright but HE'S SHORT!!!!!!! Essentially, I took it as saying "It's not cool to make fun of people's shortcomings... unless they are infact short" Don't insult Shrek, it's not his fault he's a hidious ogre, but feel free to mock the tiny man. I know people are gonna think I'm just being unduly harsh towards the film here, but really, that's what they're saying! Not necessarily that it's alright to insult short people, but they're saying that it's not right to make fun of certain people but it is alright to make fun of others.
Then there is the fact that Shrek is filled with pop culture references. I'd love to know if people are still laughing at the Matrix bit (omg SO funny... er...) I mean, just compare look at the movie connections (from IMDb). Ugh.
Thankfully though, the film actually gets some laughs in, but the fact that Monster's Inc lost to it at the Oscars is painful. In the end, Shrek is mean spirited, distasteful and lazy.
But then we get to the real disaster. The true disgusting work of movie-making. The movie that I dispise more than any other animation of the next decade. Shrek 2. I had such a violent reaction to this movie. I wanted to throw things at the cinema screen. I sat there slumped in my chair frustrated beyond belief. People were actually laughing at this. I felt like getting up and telling them to watch Ghostbusters or Spiderman or Alien (okay, the kiddies can't watch that), Seinfeld, The Wizard of Oz, Mission Impossible, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Flashdance... the list continues.
How is it that they got away with this movie? Was there a single solitary moment here that was the screenwriter's own material or did they literally take scenes, characters, dialogue and situations from other movies and hit them with a mallet into the form of Shrek 2? I even remember making an argument during the awards season that this movie shouldn't be considered as having an "Original Screenplay" because nothing in it was original (they considered Before Sunset "adapted" though for whatever reason. Thankfully the screenplay wasn't nominated anywhere). And all that stuff was before even getting into the fact that the general plot is, essentially, Meet the Parents. The makers don't even twist them around to make them appear original. It just takes them and throws them into the movie.
Then once I get off that high horse, I get on another and one that I discussed for the original but this time it's threefold. The voice talent. I love John Cleese and Jennifer Saunders and I like Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett. But, my god, these people should not do animation. I would've though Cleese would be a good fit for doing voice work but it didn't work that way. Jennifer Saunders is annoying and Julie and Rupert barely even register. And then of course there is the original returning cast. Diaz is still bland, Murphy is officially bugging me and Myers makes my blood boil. The only good one was Antonio Banderes, shamefully pilfering off his Zorro stuff as Puss in Boots. Yet, for whatever reason they make his character a non-issue in the second half! They seem to focus too long on the straight characters, which slows it all down dramatically. They're not funny.
Watching Shrek 2 made me have a renewed appreciation for the original Shrek. It made me realise that everything that was bad in the first could indeed be much much worse. Why should we have to sit through two hours of this to get to the same conclusion as the first movie (physical appearance isn't important blah blah). I don't think I laughed more than maybe two times. Shrek 2 is just not funny. The jokes are there but they don't work. And the rest of the time the filmmakers are being pretentious gits and trying to be serious and all drama-focused. WTF? They do NOT go together.
I don't see why Shrek 2 is any better than any other number of Scary Movie type movies. They're loosely stringed bits from other movies. Shrek 2 is even lazier than stupid that the original. I think the lowest of the lows though is the end. The absolute worst moment of animation I have ever seen occurs - and I am not guilty of hyperbole here. It really is that bad. It is at the very end (if I remember correctly) and involves the donkey and the cat singing, this is embarassing to say, "Livin' La Vida Loca". Yes, the song that was around in 1999. The song was dated before the original movie was out, let alone the sequel that came out in 2004 for crying out loud! Ugh. This bit was repulsive. Shame on your Gustavo Santaolalla, too!
So, yes, that is why I want the Shrek franchise to die. Right now. Is it too late for them to cancel Shrek the Third? I see that they are adding the following characters: King Arthur (voiced by Justin Timberlake) Merlin, Sir Lancelot, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Cinderella and the further raping of Disney by Dreamworks... Snow White(!!)
Now, I'm gonna go make dinner and watch Finding Nemo.