3 Stars - Wholesome
In this television era of shows like Extreme Makeover, are we teaching the world that we are more likely to “live happily ever after” if we are more physically beautiful? Is youthful beauty enough of a momentary boost to our self esteem to bring us peace and contentment?
“Shrek 2” is the sequel to the successful first movie of the same name, with the lovable ogre, Shrek (voice of Mike Myers), his love interest and now wife, Princess Fiona (voice by Cameron Diaz), and Shrek’s sidekick donkey (voice by Eddie Murphy). In the first film, the ugly ogre falls in love with Princess Fiona in a land “far, far, away.” Fiona has a malady that morphs her from a beautiful young girl during the day to a green, overweight, female version of Shrek at night. By the end of the first film the two of them have discovered that love comes from the heart, not by what we see.
“Shrek 2” opens with the newlyweds back in the woods enjoying their new found affection for one another. While they desire some time alone, along comes their old pal the donkey, who in very funny form worms his way back into their life.
They are also visited by a contingent of royal guards inviting them back to the castle of Fiona’s parents so the citizens of the land “far, far, away” can celebrate their beloved princess’s marriage. Fiona’s parents, the King and Queen, as well as the citizens of their country, have never seen who she married. Shrek, realizing that they will probably be shocked and dismayed by his ugly appearance, argues against going back for a visit. But, in the end, Fiona wins out and suggests that her family will look beyond what is skin deep and see their true hearts. Unfortunately, Shrek turned out to be a better predictor of human thinking.
The antithesis of Fiona’s pure love is represented in the kingdom’s Fairy Godmother. She has ulterior motives, in that she wants Princess Fiona to marry her vain and conceited son, Prince Charming. The Fairy Godmother conspires with the King, to assure that Fiona’s marriage won’t last. After all, the public expects a kingdom to be led by a romantic storybook king and queen.
Without giving away the clever and comical ups and downs of Shrek’s journey, needless to say, this children’s story brings us to a happy conclusion. One doesn’t have to be a movie star in order to be the picture of happiness. In fact, good looks might be a bigger hindrance to happiness than most people think.
TV shows and film today are profound shapers of culture and values. Since most programming is aimed at the biggest audience of 12 to 18 year old teenagers, it is no surprise to anyone that young girls tend to define happiness by whether they look like some version of Paris Hilton. And, for an older audience, shows like Extreme Makeover” are among the highest watched in the country. Physical beauty is a fundamental building block of our media saturated culture.
Maybe this is why this movie has such a positive and lasting value. In an age of shallow images, “Shrek” cleverly teaches millions of kids a truer meaning of love.