The Set of 400: #177 – My Favorite Parfait Endorsement

Today! Because she’s married to the muffin man –

Shrek (2001)

Directed by Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson

Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy (x3), Cameron Diaz (x2), John Lithgow (x3), Vincent Cassel, Kathleen Freeman (x2), Conrad Vernon, Chris Miller

Without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you for certain right this second whether there were three Shrek movies or four, not counting Puss in Boots. And look, the second movie was pretty solid as I recall, but I don’t remember what the hell the third one was about, or if the fourth movie even exists. Jeez, are there five Shrek movies? I just don’t remember.

I’ve never been one to dismiss animated movies as children’s fare, even endless sequels that seemingly only exist to generate cash. So when Shrek was released – and it was so different from everything that had come before – I thought it was groundbreaking, amazing hilarity. Okay, now, The Emperor’s New Groove actually was out the previous Christmas (as an animated, children’s, non-musical comedy), but I didn’t see that until much later. And sure, you had the South Park movie, but that didn’t really count, as it wasn’t aimed at kids at all. No, Shrek kinda became the template for animated movies from that point forward. And it’s great.

But…is it holding up? I mean, that animation is weirdly creaky, given that it wasn’t that long ago. I know there were kinks in the early computer stuff – even though Toy Story still looks terrific – but like, watch Shrek and then Shrek 3 or whatever it’s called. There’s a massive difference in quality. And again, this is surprising, because you can watch Disney animated movies from any era and at no point are you distracted by shitty animation.

You can be distracted by the racism, sure, but rarely the animation

It’s still a pretty funny movie, though. Part of the problem is that Shrek became such a huge thing afterward. Like, they repeated the same jokes and beats just over and over again in the sequels, and more than most animated franchises managed to really stifle memories of the first film. I don’t even have another great example. Cars, maybe? Everyone kinda liked the first Cars, and then the sequels were bullshit, right? But the first Cars was no Shrek. It was just warmed-over, retrofitted Doc Hollywood. I’ve written about this before somewhere, I think.

But okay, let’s just focus on the original – not much wrong with Shrek! Mike Myers doing his vaguely Scottish thing is always funny (it is curious to think what this movie would’ve been like with Chris Farley, per the original plan), and Eddie Murphy’s Donkey is a non-stop joke machine. Hell, the movie MVP now and always is absolutely the Gingerbread Man – 

It’s not higher because, come on, they dragged this thing all the way to a Shrek Forever After, apparently (I just looked it up!), but the original? Really solid!

How funny and solid, you might ask? Shrek? Seriously? Well, it did win the inaugural Best Animated Feature Oscar – over the likes of Monsters Inc. and…Jimmy Neutron, while also picking up a Screenplay nomination! For an animated film! Nicely done, there! It is the only non-Pixar film to achieve this feat, looks like. It won best screenplay at the BAFTAs, and also had Eddie Murphy up for Supporting Actor!

Murphy (#340 The Nutty Professor, #215 Bowfinger) and John Lithgow (#331 Twilight Zone, #281 Buckaroo Banzai) advance to the Three-Timers today, while Diaz (#248 Being John Malkovich) and Kathleen Freeman (from a half century earlier in #257 Singin’ in the Rain!) join the Twos!

Freeman’s got at least one more appearance on the list to come (spoiler alert)

Coming tomorrow! Here’s to crime! Bigger and better crime!

Oh, and it’s New Year’s Eve? What d’ya know about that! Happy New Year!

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