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:: Shrek

Based on the children's book by William Steig, “Shrek” is brought to life as three-dimensional CGI animation, much along the lines of “Toy Story”, “Antz” and “Bug's Life”. What sets this apart from those films is the superb use of dialogue in correlation with animated facial movements and extensive use of what we would recognise as human figures (as opposed to animals, insects or toys). Shrek's predecessors-with the possible exception of a few glimpses in “Toy Story”-avoided using realistic humans because of the difficulties of making people look convincing. But all jiggery-pokery aside, this film is sensational on many more levels than its technical achievements.

It's the standard comical faerie-tale plot: an unlikely pair (an Ogre and a donkey) are forced to work together to rescue an ungrateful princess from a dragon. The princess ends up falling in love with her “ugly” rescuer whilst they all learn lessons about good vs. evil and that beauty is more than skin deep, etc, yadda yadda. Whilst it satisfies all the moralists on that level, there is also the beauty of intertextuality which is played with to great effect in this film.

Just about every classic “fairy tale” is lampooned and a few modern ones too. Theme parks, world federation wrestling and game shows are just a few popular culture victims which have been cleverly worked in and the beauty of animation is that it's such a slow, well-planned process that nothing is included if it doesn't work. If some poor animator is prepared to spend three months to make a joke work, you'd better be sure it's going to be worth it.

The film is hilariously funny. You're guaranteed at least a few belly laughs in the hands of master comedians Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy. Myers voices Shrek the “ugly” ogre with the heart-of-gold, reprising a little of his “Fat Bastard” character, heading north of the border for a Scottish accent. Murphy on the other hand gets cute as the annoying, wise-ass that won't shut up. Literally! Cameron Diaz does well in such fine company as the headstrong Princess Fiona and John Lithgow is wonderfully camp as the vertically challenged, evil Lord Farquaard.

So, hilarious story, great cast, cutting edge animation and breathtaking scenery. There's nothing much wrong with this film at all. What are you waiting for? Go see it and take some kids with you if you need an excuse.

Screening on general release