Saturday, August 10, 2019

My Beloved Monster

Directors: Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jensen
Voice Talent: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow
Released: May 18, 2001
Viewed in theaters: June 12, 2001

Oscar nominations:
Best Animated Picture (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Joe Stillman, and Roger H.S.Schulman (lost to Akiva Goldsman for A Beautiful Mind)

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me

I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed

She was looking kind of dumb with her finger and her thumb

In the shape of an "L" on her forehead...

Okay, show of hands: who thinks of this movie whenever they hear this song? Cuz I sure do. Every time they play this song on the radio stations that still play music from the late '90s or early '00, I am reminded of this movie. In fact, I just figured this song was released the same year as the movie and that's why they used it, but "All Star" by Smash Mouth (whatever happened to them, I wonder? Not that I really care that much!) came out in 1999 and has since this day forward been known as the Shrek song. And once you get it in your head, it never gets out! "Hey now, you're an all star, get your game on, go play. Hey now, your'e a rock star, get the show on, get paid." Now you have that song in your head. You're welcome.

Shrek will go down in history as being the first animated movie to win the Oscar for Best Animated movie since they started that category in 2002. It was up against Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. In hindsight, Monsters, Inc. should have won. Shrek won because it was super popular and everyone loved it, but I don't think it has aged that well. Not just the animation (the humans look vey similar to Sims), but the dated pop culture references (The Matrix comes to mind) don't hold up so well either. 

Shrek the character (voiced by Mike Myers in a Scottish accent) is just super gross. He's a big fat green ogre who lives in the swamp and he belches, farts, and (in one of the most disgusting scenes from the movie) pulls ear wax out of his ear to create a candle. He also eats pretty much anything (including spiderwebs fashioned into cotton candy and rats) and has bad breathe, as we're told many times. I guess we're supposed to feel sorry for him because everyone is afraid of him and runs away when they see him. Well, if I saw a farting, belching, ear-wax picking ogre with bad breathe, I would probably run the other way too! His sidekick, Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), a talking donkey, can be endearing at times and at other times, annoying, as he never shuts up and likes to sing. Shrek is a bit of an a-hole too; I know where supposed to feel sorry for him and he acts like a jerk because he's really lonely and blah, blah, blah, but I really don't care. When he and Donkey are crossing the rickety, swinging bridge over a deep chasm to get to the other side, he keeps swinging the bridge back and forth even though Donkey is clearly afraid and keeps telling him to stop .Then, the first night, when Fiona finds shelter in a cave, Shrek makes it like he's going to move a big boulder in front of it, so she won't be able to get out. He tells Donkey he's only "joking", but I bet if Donkey weren't there to chastise him, he would have placed that boulder in front of that cave! 

Shrek and Donkey meet when Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow), the ruler of the kingdom Duloc, has banished fairy tale creatures and characters to the swamp where Shrek lives. Shrek, who likes his privacy and not being bothered, wants to know where Lord Farquaad is so he can speak to him and Donkey is the only person, er creature, who knows where he is, so begrudgingly Shrek lets him take him to Duloc. Lord Farquaad wants to be King, but the only way he can do so is if he marries a princess. He is told this by the Magic Mirror who points this out to him and gives him a list of potential candidates: Cinderella (even though she technically becomes a Princess AFTER she marries the Prince), Snow White, and Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), a princess who is stuck in a castle and is waiting for her knight in shining armor who will have to slay the fire-breathing dragon who is guarding the castle. Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad that if he rescues Fiona (Farquaad never had any intention of actually rescuing the Princess; he was always going to send someone to do his job for him) that all the creatures will have to leave his premises and Farquaad agrees to the deal. 

After Farquuad picks Fiona as his betroved, the Mirror is about to tell him something important that happens to her after midnight, but Farquaad just dismisses it as he's just ready to marry his bride. Of course, well all know what he was going to say. Even if you've never seen the movie, I can't imagine you don't know what the big twist is at the end, especially if you've seen any promotional pieces from the next three (?) movies. I don't think it's a big secret or anything, but if you're that sensitive to details and really have no idea what I'm talking about, then I will have to put a spoiler warning right here...just in case! I'm putting a spoiler right now because I'm going to talk about the big twist.

So, yes, turns out Fiona needs to find a private shelter to camp after the sun goes down because she turns into an ogre. We find this out on the second night when Donkey discovers her this way (and thinks Shrek has eaten her! But why would Shrek be wearing her dress?) She tells Donkey a witch put a spell on her and the only way to break the curse is to be kissed by her true love. I always just assumed she was a human and the spell made her turn into an ogre. But then, a few things made me wonder. She says "I've been this way as long as I can remember", implying that perhaps she was first an ogre, then the witch turned her into a human only when it's daylight. I know it seems like the witch's curse turned her into an ogre because she talks about how ugly she is and how nobody will love her if she turns into this hideous beast at night (and for the record, even though she was an ogre, she was still actually pretty cute). After Shrek rescues her and she demands for him to take off his helmet (even though you can still totally see green skin where his neck and hands are showing) and she sees he's an ogre, her reaction is disappointment. I feel like if she were a human-turned-ogre, her reaction would be more of disgust. Plus, the first night when she's taking shelter in the cave and we see her peeking out and listening to the conversation Shrek and Donkey are having about Shrek being lonely, she seems to have compassion and empathy for though she understands because she's an ogre too and knows what he's going through. She tells Donkey a Princess is supposed to be beautiful and she wants to be the beautiful, lithe human form with the long flowing hair. I supposed maybe they go into more detail with this in the other movies, but I haven't seen Shrek 2 since May 24, 2004. God knows how long it's been since I've seen Shrek the Third or if I've even seen it at all and I'm pretty sure I never saw Shrek Forever After. Perhaps they go into Fiona's backstory in one of those movies. I guess I could just look it up on Wikipedia or something, but I just feel like that would lead me down a wormhole I don't want to dig myself into. Oh! Another reason I believe Fiona was born an ogre and "cursed" to be a human is because of her behavior. After she makes that disgusting cobweb cotton candy with the flies stuck to it for Shrek, we see her licking her fingers. She also eats the rat Shrek cooks and belches and has no problem horsing around with him. If she were truly a human princess, I can't imagine she would be doing these things (or even knowing that ogres like cotton candy spiderwebs). Yes, I suppose you could say she learned these things after being turned into an ogre for so long. 

This movie was popular because of its witty take on popular fairy tales. Yes, there are some funny moments in this movie, I will admit. I did laugh when Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man ("Run, run, fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the Gingerbread Man") by dunking him in milk and tearing off his legs so he can't run away. It's funny when the Gingerbread Man asks him, "Do you know the Muffin Man?" and he replies, "The Muffin Man?" and the Gingerbread Man repeats, "The Muffin Man." They recite the whole little ditty under a pretense of an interrogation. When all the fairy tale creatures are invading Shrek's home, I thought it was funny when one of the Three Pigs said about Farquaad, "He huffed and he puffed and he sent an eviction notice." When Shrek and Donkey cross the bridge to the castle, Donkey asks him where the fire breathing monster is and Shrek tells him, "Inside, waiting for us to rescue her." Okay, that was funny AND mean. Right before Shrek makes it to the highest tower of the castle to rescue Fiona, we see she's fidgeting in her bed and making sure everything is perfect when his back is turned to her so she will look perfect when he kisses her. Fiona has some other funny moments when it's about to turn midnight and she demands, "I need to find somewhere to camp NOW!" Just the way Cameron Diaz read that line made me laugh because she's so sharp and demanding; like you are going to listen to her! People seem to love Donkey's line, "And in the morning, I'm making WAFFLES!" Yes, he does say "waffles" with a lot of enthusiasm and that line is popular for some reason, but I didn't think it was that funny, but to each their own. He also never makes waffles, I should point out. Maybe he gets to make waffles in one of the sequels. Also, Farquaad's demise of being inhaled by the dragon is super funny and fully deserved.

So, yes, there are genuinely funny moments in this movie. I remembered there was also a lot of jokes only adults would get, but I guess I forgot just how many of them there were and just how adult these jokes got. They're pretty subtle, but it's still pretty shocking some of them found their way in a PG movie (no way this movie could have been rated G!). I'm not just talking about juvenile farting/belching/urinating/defecating jokes, because there are plenty of those, but they go into some pretty awkward territory. When the Mirror introduces Snow White as a potential partner for Farquaad, he says, "Although she lives with seven other men, she's not easy". Eesh. There's also a masturbation (yes, I'm not joking) joke when we see Farquaad in bed, naked, about to pleasure himself to pictures of Fiona. We know this because he lifts up the sheet just a fraction and has a gleeful look on his face; plus the mirror, who is showing him the image of Fiona Farquaad is demanding, looks very disturbed! That scene makes me want to throw up in my mouth! When Shrek and Donkey enter Duloc and see the massively tall castle Farquaad lives in, Shrek asks Donkey with a little too much glee in his voice, "Do you think maybe he's compensating for something?" The way he says it is a wink at the adult audience, like you know what that means! But I thought surely the movie wouldn't go there, and I thought he meant he was compensating because of his stature as Lord Farquaad is a very short man; almost comically so. He's half the size of Fiona (that's human Fiona, too!) But no, they weren't talking about his height when they made that joke; they make that clear when they return with Fiona. 

When Fiona reveals herself to Shrek to be an ogre just like him (right before she's about to be married to Farquaad and Shrek stops the wedding), they kiss and the spell is broken because she's found her true love. In Beauty and the Beast fashion, she is lifted in the air in a cloud of dust as we wait for her to change. You think (or so they want you to think!) that she's going to change back into her human form, but let's be honest...if she was a human and Shrek was an ogre and they were together...that would be really f**king weird. First of all, he is about fourth girths wider than she is when she's a human and his mouth is big enough to fit over her head and his paws are huge compared to her dainty hands. It's just super weird imagining them being together if you know what I mean. The whole thing made me thing of how Hagrid from the Harry Potter series was conceived as his mother was a giant and his father was a human. Like, how does that even happen? That has always disturbed me! There must have been some kind of potion involved to make either one bigger or one smaller. Shrek and Fiona both have to be either humans or both be ogres...and of course she remains an ogre (as is her TRUE self!) and says she is ugly and Shrek tells her that she's beautiful and they live happily ever least for four (?) more movies. 

Hmm, looking this over, I'm pretty sure I've spelled "Farquaad" two different ways. Oh, well. You know who I'm talking about, anyway! 

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