Shrek 2 magically transports us to a hilarious quest through twisted fairytales. The original was a smart outlook on classic Hans Christian Andersen stories with a modern spice added to produce a refreshing flavour. Well-rounded characters, witty dialogue and an unlikely romantic story at its heart. So, naturally, a sequel was going to get commissioned. Here we are, enduring "blistering winds and scorching deserts" to the destination of Far Far Away. And you know what? I'm not ashamed to say that Shrek 2 is one of the best animated sequels of all-time. Shrek and Fiona are invited to meet her parents, but when they arrive their welcomed party is disturbed by the sinister Fairy Godmother.
Where was I? Oh yes! I bloody love this film. Its quality remains consistent, developing the already memorable characters even further by reaffirming their love for each other whilst introducing several new characters into the cauldron. Puss in Boots, Prince Charming, heck even the Muffin Man (yes, the one who lives on Drury Lane...) makes an appearance. Fiona's character was probably the most underplayed, considering her boisterous personality in the previous instalment, but it rarely deters from the poignant happily ever after plot that is oh so relatable for all the lovers in the world.
Yet what makes this sequel that much better, is the outlandish use of comedy. It's hilarious! Whether Donkey is annoying the absolute Ogre excrement out of Shrek or Charming yearning for his "mummy" in times of turmoil. The balanced approach of both visual and literary comedy makes it accessible to pretty much everyone, and revisiting this years later I found myself discovering new subtle jokes that had me bawling. This is obviously executed exquisitely by the eccentric and likeable voice cast that bring these characters to life, not to mention the fluid stunning animation.
Right! I can't hold it in any longer! I'm just "holding out for a hero"...! Urgh. Simply put, Jennifer Saunders singing Bonnie Tyler's epic ballad was just sublime. Masterful. Frickin' fantastic. To the point that the entire sequence is in my list of favourite scenes of all time. No joke. I have the cover on my iPod, it's that good. The race against the clock excitingly creates that sense of urgency that, accompanied with the song, was perfect. I'm willing to give this film a perfect score just for that scene alone.
Alas, there are issues. The excessive use of pop songs nearly every ten minutes does detract from the wonderful score that was crafted. Some work, such as Lipps Inc's "Funky Town" and Counting Crows' "Accidentally in Love", but most of them unfortunately feel out of place. The only other criticism is that the pace seems too brisk for its own good. There's a scene where Shrek discovers an evil plan and the scene then transitions to the Wedding Ball within a second. All of sudden we're in the final act with no prior development. Small nitpicks for a family film, but must be addressed regardless.
Fortunately the vast majority of this sequel is perfect, bettering its predecessor in nearly every department. Fifteen years later and I'm still laughing at Donkey's shenanigans, that right there proves the magical lasting powers of Shrek 2. If only DreamWorks stopped making sequels, we would have that happily ever after...