BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
Shrek 2 doesn’t live up to the previews and the hype. The first Shrek seemed a little fresher and less forgettable. Not that the sequel isn’t clever. But some of the comedy falls flat, and with so much happening so fast it feels chaotic. But don’t let my disappointment divert you into choosing an alternate door in the Cineplex. The story is entertaining, with plenty of spoofs and laughs and worth your 93 minutes.
Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) return from their honeymoon to find an invitation from Fiona’s royal parents (John Cleese and Julie Andrews). Fiona convinces Shrek that—warts and all—meeting his in-laws is the right thing to do. And accompanied by their talkative donkey friend (Eddie Murphy), they ride hundreds of miles in a Cinderella carriage to the land of Far Far Away, where DreamWorks animators have a field day spoofing Hollywood scenery and culture, fairy tale characters, and any consumer icons they can feature into the landscape. Even Joan Rivers makes a cameo as herself.
Naturally, the King and Queen are shocked to see how un-royal their daughter Fiona looks, not to mention that she has married an ogre. So the King conspires with the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders)—whose son happens to be the vain Prince Charming (Rupert Everett)—to dispose of Shrek so the Prince can claim Fiona.
A beguiling feline assassin named Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) takes center stage, though his purpose curiously wilts. There are some rich bar scenes, including an Ugly Stepsister barmaid voiced by Larry King. In fact, if you’re into celebrities, half of the voices in Hollywood turn out to make this movie live up to its own anticipation. And DreamWorks goes to plenty of trouble creating spoofs that speed by so fast that you’d better not blink.
Shrek 2 falls halfway between the original Shrek and the summer matinee vintage where air-conditioning is the feature and entertainment is the perk. I predict that Shrek 3 will be strictly summer vintage.