"The Simpsons" offers a Halloween episode each year. In one of these episodes, Homer gets a magic hammock that allows him to clone himself. The only problem is that each clone is dumber than the already mentally challenged Homer. It seems that each copy gets a little worse than the original.
Shrek, Puss in Boots and Donkey, with voices of Mike Myers, Antonio Banderas and Eddie Murphy. (DreamWorks)
That generally is the case with movie sequels: Most are never as good as the original. With few exceptions, most sequels are nothing more than pale imitations of the first movie. This may be said of "Shrek 2," the sequel to the successful "Shrek," released in 2001.
"Shrek 2" continues the story of Shrek the ogre and Fiona the princess-turned-ogre. At the end of the first movie, the happy couple is on the way to their honeymoon.
The opening of "Shrek 2" finds the couple arriving back home. Shortly after getting home, a summons comes for Fiona and Shrek to appear at the court of King Harold and Queen Lillian, Fiona's parents. It seems that Fiona had been placed (in the first movie) in the castle keep to await the arrival of Prince Charming, son of the Fairy Godmother. It was to be Charming's kiss that released Fiona from her curse, but Shrek got there first.
When Shrek and Fiona, along with their traveling companion, Donkey, arrive in the Kingdom of Far, Far Away, they are not greeted with open arms. In fact, we find out that King Harold has a deal with the Fairy Godmother to give Fiona to Charming.
This means that Shrek has to re-win the hand of Fiona. Donkey lends his aid to our hero, and there is a new addition, Puss in Boots, who was supposed to assassinate Shrek. Instead, he was thwarted in his attempt and becomes indebted to the ogre.
Also returning for the sequel are the Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio and the Three Blind Mice, who now have larger roles in the movie, which is good fun for the popular culture literati.
"Shrek 2" follows very closely to the formula of the first, including the liberal use of easily forgotten music. But there are still laughs, and the interplay and rivalry between Donkey and Puss in Boots is very funny. Yet, there is something missing.
"Shrek 2" lacks much of the charm of the first movie. It has too much intrigue and not enough whimsy. Furthermore, Shrek now seems too comfortable with his ogre-ness and does not reflect enough on how he was so anti-social in the first movie—even though the anti-social nature of Shrek is what appealed to children.
His grossness was something that children were drawn to. His awkwardness was something that children identified with. And his getting the princess at the end of the first movie gave hope to those who did not have the right stuff. Here, however, marriage seems to have mellowed our ogre.
All that said, "Shrek 2" is a good movie, but it seems like most sequels have some parts missing that were in the original. And sometimes the part that is missing is one of the most important. "Shrek 2" will entertain you, but it lacks the warmth and the grossness of the original. That may not be your cup of tea, but the child in your life will be the one who misses it most.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG for some crude humor, a brief substance reference and some suggestive content.
Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
Writers: J. David Stern, Joe Stillman and David N. Weiss
Voices: Shrek: Mike Myers; Donkey: Eddie Murphy; Fiona: Cameron Diaz; King Harold: John Cleese; Queen Lillian: Julie Andrews; Puss in Boots: Antonio Banderas; Prince Charming: Rupert Everett; Fairy Godmother: Jennifer Saunders.
The movie's official Web site is here.