Shrek Series - Why I Hate Shrek

Category: family
Available: On DVD
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Yes, I know that Shrek and its sequels have raked in huge amounts at the box office and I know that they rank as the some of the highest grossing animated films of all time. However, there are many reasons why I find the films very flawed and downright disappointing despite what the box office figures indicate.

Did you know that adjusted for inflation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs actually is the highest grossing animated film? 101 Dalmations, Fantasia, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, and Sleeping Beauty have all grossed more. Sure, you may say this is due to multiple re-releasesÖ and I would say, thatís just my point. Those films are many years older and yet still enjoyable to watch. Can you argue that people are going to care about the Shrek movies more than a generation from now? I doubt it. They donít have any kind of staying power.

My first complaint about the Shrek movies is that they are very much rooted in one moment in time. Their whole shtick is a self-aware, revisionist attack on the traditional fairytale. This is motivated by a very specific trend in a very specific moment in time. And as the fascination of the Lord of the Rings and Narnia movies shows, we already seem to be past the cynical, mocking phase that we went through in the late 90s and are longing for more earnest legends again.

I would argue that one of the strengths of the Disney brand, that Pixar has also fixed onto, is the timelessness of their pieces. They are enjoyable in any era and stand the test of time. The Shrek films donít have that. Watch the first film. There are moments, that I guess were funny at the time, where the characters jump in the air to kick their opponents and freeze while the ďcameraĒ spins around them ďMatrix style. The Matrix was released in 1999 which is a long time ago. How funny is that joke today. Look at Aladdin the genieís pop culture references are much more timeless, rotted in icons that have lasted the generations. The jokes in Shrek and its sequels are rooted in a very specific moment and they are lost.

There is also a focus on toilet humor. Donít get me wrong. I am not offended. I am bored with toilet humor. Farts are so 5th grade and honestly, I want my comedy to be more clever than that. Yes, I know there is a contingent of you out there that revel in loving a good fart joke. I like my humor to be raunchy but I need it to be smarter than just letting a fart rip. Donít we want to encourage our children to be smarter than that too?

Another problem with the Shrek films is the animation. Itís stilted. Itís the kind of CGI that focuses on trying to be photo real and ends up just looking stiff. Pinocchio isnít the only wooden character in Shrek. I prefer a more stylized approach. Donít make it look like the computer is doing all the work. I want to see art.

Finally, and probably my biggest complaint about the Shrek films is that I find them neither funny nor clever nor original. If your shtick is going to be to attack the classic, you have got to do more than just dance around being silly. You have to get underneath it and expose the holes. Shrek doesnít bother.

In terms of humor, the jokes are most often obvious and very often repetitive. In The Third we see Puss n Boots looking all teary eyed cute again. Again! Didn't he do this to death in 2? Canít they think of something new for the characters to do?

All in all I find Shrek and the enjoyment of it laziness. Itís like studios think audiences who are looking to not have to have their brains stimulated for an hour and a half. Movies can be entertaining and smart. The two are not contradictory and in fact they are necessary. Without one you donít have the other.

I know that my distaste for these films doesnít put me in the majority and I am fine with that. I wish people demanded more from studios so that we would have less sludge like this. Especially for films aimed at families in this age of DVD and downloading films that we could demand that films be smart and endurable.

Check back in 50 years and see how many people have treasured special edition Shrek DVDs or other format in their collections. I bet it will be a lot less than have treasured sets of The Lion King.

Review By: Collin Smith

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