"Shrek 2" is bright, lively and entertaining, but maybe it's too much to expect it to be as good as "Shrek" was. "Shrek 2" is good, but it was more fun to see Shrek challenge a dragon than it is to watch him meet his in-laws. Shrek (voice again by Myers) proves that a good woman can tame an ogre. His former life as the loner in a swamp changed enormously during his romance with Princess Fiona (Diaz). But when he eats dinner with her parents, King Harold (Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Andrews), it's clear he's not yet fully refined.
In the first film, Fiona, held captive by a dragon, could only be freed if he were slain, and if the hero who killed him kissed her. To her parents' thinbking, that should have been Prince Charming (Everett), Now he finally disappointedly discovers that an ogre - Shrek - has done away with the dragon and married Fiona; to make matters worse, by kissing Fiona, Shrek transformed her into a tall, broad, green, female ogre.
From the Kingdom Far, Far Away, Fiona's parents write that they want to meet her husband. Again, Shrek must take a long journey, this time, with Fiona; Donkey (Murphy again) insists on going, too, and once again is the movie's non-stop comedian, with total blindness about not being welcome. The kingdom is so far away that Donkey endlessly asks, "Are we there yet?"
At the castle, Harold and Lillian are shocked that Fiona not only married an ogre, but now is one. When doves fly out to celebrate the couple's arrival, one is so taken aback that it flies into a castle wall. Fiona's parents hope her sinister Fairy Godmother (Saunders), who runs a huge factory creating hexes and potions, will offer the newlyweds a bit of Happily Ever After Potion to turn Shrek into a human, but Godmother wants to get rid of him altogether, so Prince Charming can marry Fiona.
The screenplay is as funny as the one for the first "Shrek," and always surprising; we don't expect the ogre and his bride to fight, or that Shrek will leave. As the kingdom's celebrities arrive at the matrimonial ball and walk a red carpet, a Joan Rivers-type commentator holds forth.
A new major character in the sequel, Puss-in-Boots (Banderas) stirs mutual resentment in Donkey, because each thinks he's the star. "Shrek 2" is good; its lead character seems able to inspire "Shrek 3." We'll see!
Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
J. David Stem, Joe Stillman and David N. Weiss, based on characters by William S
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Rupe
Shrek; Dreamworks; family animation movie; ogre; acceptance
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