Shrek introduced another player to the computer animated film arena. Before Shrek, Pixar has been unstoppable with its Toy Story and A Bugs Life films, but in May 2001 Shrek earned nearly $270 million, a figure that Monsters, Inc was unable to match later that year. While Shrek 2 would be an even more gargantuan hit, the original Shrek was a hit in its own right, and its wake (for good and bad) would have a lasting effects upon animated films for years to come.
Since most people have probably seen this film, I am going to be a bit light on the summary, and stick mostly with my impressions. Shrek had an irreverence about it, especially for the Disney classics, that came just at the right time. In 2001, the second golden age of Disney had waned, and audiences were ready for something fresh. Enter in pop culture references, jabs at Disney classics, and fart jokes a plenty. While perhaps tasteful is not the right word to describe the humor in Shrek, the jokes were genuinely funny. Additionally, this new formula had not yet been milked to death, nor were the pop culture references too overplayed, with a couple exceptions. For the most part, I really like this movie. I love the Gingerbread Man, Donkey is one of Eddie Murphy's better roles (though he did the same shtick as Mushu in 1998's Mulan), even John Lithgow who I detest was good as Farquaad. Mike Myers is good as Shrek, but I wish he didn't rescue his jokes so much. Lots of times I find myself taken out of a film when he quotes himself from So I Married an Axe Murderer banking that no one saw it. I also like all the fairy tale creatures being thrown in the mix, the 3 pigs are so odd, that they always get a chuckle.
Now for the bad. As much as I loved the heroic scene with Shrek fighting Dragon, and Dragon's role in the ending, I find the idea of Donkey and Dragon falling in love to be very lame. I find it so lame in fact that I wish Shrek had just killed the stupid beast. After all, it just doesn’t make sense, nor is it funny to me at all. The other scene in this movie that always makes me cringe is Fiona vs Robin Hood's Merry Men. That Matrix style bullet time shot is such a cliché (and was even in 2001) and rings of the film trying a tad too hard to be cool.
Overall, this was a creative and entertaining film that will be emulated for years, but never quite matched.