Movie Review

Shrek

MPAA Rating: PG for mild language and some crude humor

Reviewed by: Matthew Rees
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Genre:
Animation, Comedy, Action, Adventure, Kids, Family, Romance, Fantasy, Adaptation
Length:
1 hr. 30 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
May 18, 2001 (wide)
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution
Copyright, DreamWorks Distribution
Relevant Issues
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Learn about DRAGONS in the Bible

Reviews of other films in this series

Shrek II (2004)

Shrek the Third (2007)

Shrek Forever After (2010)

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Featuring: Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow, Linda Hunt, Mike Myers
Director: Andrew Adamson, Victoria Jenson
Producer: Penney Finkelman Cox, Sandra Rabins, David Lipman
Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution

“The Prince isn’t charming. The Princess isn’t sleeping. The sidekick isn’t helping. The ogre is the hero. Fairy tales will never be the same again.”

Having been fortunate enough to see an advance screening of “Shrek”, I thought I’d share my impressions with you so you know what to expect when the movie is released on May 18th. “Shrek” is an oddball, computer-animated fairy tale spoof (think “Toy Story” meets “The Princess Bride”) from Dreamworks SKG. The title character is a large, green, ornery ogre voiced in Scottish brogue by Mike Myers—but don’t worry, this is not “Austin Powers” territory. Eddie Murphy reprises the role of wisecracking sidekick that he played so well in “Mulan”, only this time he’s a donkey, not a dragon. The principal cast is rounded out by Cameron Diaz as the feisty Princess Fiona, and John Lithgow as the egocentric and very short Lord Farquaad.

Lord Farquaad is obsessed with having the perfect kingdom, and to that end is rounding up and imprisoning fairy-tale creatures, most of whom flee to Shrek’s doorstep for protection. But to have a kingdom, you need to be a king, and Lord Farquaad decides the quickest way to kingship is to marry Princess Fiona. There’s just one small snag: she’s locked up in a tower guarded by a ferocious dragon. Enter Shrek, who’s come to have a word with Lord Farquaad about getting the unwanted squatters off his property. He agrees to rescue the princess in exchange, and he does so with characteristic directness. he’s hardly the Prince Charming that Fiona expected, but she warms up to him in time. The rest of the story can’t really be told without spoiling the movie’s surprises, but suffice it to say that it follows the time-honored trend of skewering familiar fairy-tale cliches while still managing to end happily ever after.

When all is said and done, “Shrek” is not the comic masterpiece that “The Princess Bride” was, but it’s still a very witty, very enjoyable movie. The comic timing is good, the satire is right on the mark, and the voice acting captures the characters perfectly. It helps that all the actors are totally in their element. The computer animation is top-of-the-line; would you expect any less from Dreamworks? The rock-and-roll soundtrack—opening with Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and finishing with a jazzed-up cover of the Monkees’ “I’m a Believer” by Eddie Murphy—may seem a little incongruous, but it blends well with the overall mood of the film, and isn’t bothersome unless you just don’t like that kind of music.

The main reason for the PG rating on “Shrek” seems to be a fair amount of crude humor—fart jokes, gross-out sight gags and the like. Most of this comes near the beginning of the film and serves to establish Shrek’s uncouth character. There’s a small amount of mild sexual innuendo, which is bound to go way over the heads of most children. We see a couple of very brief glimpses of Shrek’s bare buttocks and a little bit of Princess Fiona’s cleavage. I don’t recall any profanity (though I wasn’t really keeping score) except for a couple of creative wordplays using the word “ass” to refer to the donkey. There’s a moderate amount of violence, though it’s all very cartoonish. In very few cases is anybody seriously harmed, though many people get knocked around a lot. A gingerbread man is tortured by having his legs pulled off, a few forest animals meet unpleasant ends for comic effect, and one person is eaten by a dragon. We also see several skeletons of the dragon’s former victims lying around its lair.

On the positive side, “Shrek” has a lot of good, clean humor and some good messages. The biggest moral of the story is the wrongfulness of judging people by their appearance, although this is undercut somewhat by the abundance of short jokes directed at Lord Farquaad. A secondary message is the importance of companionship. All Shrek wants at the beginning of the movie is to be left alone, but he learns by the end that no man (or ogre) is an island. While there’s nothing really new or especially deep in the movie’s moral platitudes, they’re still refreshing in today’s self-centered and image-conscious society. And for children who haven’t heard them a hundred times before, they could very well make a lasting impression. With the noted caveats, I can recommend “Shrek” as one of the few movies these days that’s fun for the whole family.

See our review of “Shrek II,” “Shrek the Third,” and “Shrek Forever After


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Wow, were we bummed. My husband and I hoped for a couple hours of light-hearted, quick-witted entertainment. Instead we got the usual anti-hero fare in children’s form—which was more disturbing somehow. For the longest part of the movie, Shrek and donkey friend were perpetually presented as low, coarse, and generally unendearing. “Ass” was used twice with no play on words intended. Sexual “innuendo” was blatant more than once. The “damns” were loud and clear as well. The real theme of pain and isolation from physical differences was kinda chucked in near the end (trying to redeem the movie?). Great animation, but not worth the price of admission.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—Jenny, age 34
This movie could not have been more funny if it tried! It shows humor in life in a wonderful way for kids to understand. The story turns out better than you think it will! I found nothing offending about this movie, the language and jokes are nothing more than what your child would hear in elementary school. So sit back and enjoy!
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Raquel, age 32
My husband, son and I just returned from seeing Shrek. We thought it was one of the funniest animated movies we’ve seen! I have to admit, there were a few too many d***’s and a**’s in it (even though both of these words are in the Bible) and there was a few crude jokes, and expelling of gas (normal bodily function) but the movie did have some good morals to it. The donkey was a loyal friend and it sort of had a “Beauty and the Beast” type theme. The animation was excellent and overall I thought it was a great movie. I would see it again. I personally don’t think children under 10 should see it, as they might imitate the language. This movie needs to be seen with a sense of humor!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Amanda, age 33
An okay movie, but definitely not for young, impressionable children. And in response to the comments of Ms. Spencer-Mukes, with all due respect, I am insulted that she thinks Shrek looks “African-American” (or Black, Colored, Negro—take your pick). I have been Black all my life, and know many other Black people, but none of them look anything like Shrek. As far as “Euro-centric” or “Barbie” features are concerned, she needs to take a look at Iman, Beverly Johnson, Anne Marie Johnson, Lena Horne, Tina Turner, etc. I hope that one day she, as I do, will teach her daughter that looks matter far, far less than character.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Anita Clay, age 39
It is too bad that they would make a children’s movie and promote it as a family must see movie of the summer and yet be so full of sensual suggestive material. It breaks my heart to read so many of the comments on this movie and come to realize that we are so quick to lay aside our moral obligation to raise our generations in a manner worthy of which this Nation was founded, all in the name of entertainment. We too left this movie too late in hopes that it would improve, but I was sad to say that it got worse and worse as the movie went on. We as parents need to be careful that we are not sending mixed messages to our children. don’t do that or speak like that and yet we entertain ourselves with this kind of junk? In Ephesians Chapter 5, of the Scriptures, God tells us to not let immorality, or any impurity, or greed, even be named among you, as is proper to saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk or course jesting which are not fitting; but rather give thanks. It is interesting to me that many speak of this as great family film, some say because the humor goes right over our children’s heads. Are we not justifying seeing something and entertaining ourselves with something that Christ died for. I strongly disagree that this movie should even be seen let alone given a good rating by those of us who call ourselves Christians. I am sorry, but I was very, very disappointed.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 4]
—Jason and Amy, age 33
I was quite pleased with the movie. It had been recommended by several friends as the movie to see. My family and I saw it together and practically rolled in the aisles with laughter. I don’t see where the one reviewer got that Shrek was Afro-American in disguise. There is NO hint of any racial preference! (I guess it just proves that you can read anything you want into anything at all!!) I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. It would be a good one to purchase on video when it comes out.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Cyndi Mauller, age 41
…a cute movie, and there are some very mild offensive jokes. That being said that is why it got the PG rating. In my opinion it is a ok movie for your kid. And, I have heard comments that people felt that shrek represented afro-americans, I just do not see this at all. I will agree that the movie deals with humans prejudices, but I think that it does it in a good manner. Let me briefly explain. The hero Shrek is ridiculed because he is different from the others around him. That being said the movie goes on to show that even though he may be different on the outside, he is truly better on the inside than those who are doing the “shrek bashing “. Go see the movie it has a good message and your kids will like it and you parents will like it as well.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Chris, age 26
I must wonder why no one has yet mentioned the fact that beauty in Shrek is defined as thin, with Euro-centric features, while the ugly “beast-like” character has blatantly Afro-centric features? Through the entire movie I found myself constantly thinking “he’s not ugly, he’s black.” Now I must admit that I really liked every other aspect of the movie. But I have to ask myself, am I going to bring my Afro-American daughter to see this movie? Quite frankly it’s hard enough trying to help her overcome the idea of Barbie as perfection. So, I think I will definitely pass. And to be honest, I hope you do the same.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Angela Spencer-Mukes, age 33
A very funny film. I took the whole family and most of us were “rolling in the aisles”. 10 and under won’t enjoy the gags and fun pokes at Disney in the movie as much as teens to adults and if you don’t want your kids hearing the “ass” word yet, you’ll want to wait a few years and see this on video. Other than that, see the movie and enjoy yourself.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Michael, age 43
Would you go through a “mine field” with your children to get an ice cream cone? Shrek is clearly an “adult” movie disguised as a “children’s” movie. Most critics conclude that the innuendos and adult humor will go over the little ones’ head… is it worth the risk? The film had some moments of humor and the movie making quality was very good, but the discussion of a man making compensation for his “size” (not talking about height), figuring out how many ways we can get the word a** in, double meaning dialogue is not my idea of a wholesome time with my children. We should not be surprised with the past work that Murphy, Myers, and Diaz have done. Are these true “role” models for this generation. Even listening to Elton John sing some “Hallelujahs” was offensive. I disagree with the reviewer. I wish I had not taken my kids to see this one.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Douglas Downs, age 45
Shrek is one of the most visually stunning movies I have ever seen. It takes computer animation places it has never been before. In fact, it is hard to compare Shrek to other computer animations because it the incredible details are simply unmatched in any other film. Some films, like “The Mummy Returns”, use a storyline to simply tie together a series of special effects. But Shrek’s animations are so marvelously and delicately tied to the characters and the story that you get totally lost in the beauty of the created world on the screen before you. The characters are delightful, but my favorite was Eddie Murphy in the role of Donkey who is a wonderful, unforgettable comedic figure. There is one scene which may be too intense for young viewers. It is a scene of a terrifying dragon (which we later learn to love). There are a handful of mild profanities (“damn”) and two plays on the word “word” ass (referring to Donkey). This is one film you will want to see again and again!
My Ratings: [Better than Average]
—Ron Reames, age 54
My son (18) and my expectations must have been too high. He agreed that this movie is not appropriate for young children. I found the movie promoting the very kinds of crude jokes that I thought we’d rather teach our children to avoid. Also, though there were some funny moments, overall, we found the movie boring. Watching an ogre fart, burp, eat eyeballs and the like, hearing a donkey swear, listening to little wooden toys sing about washing one’s rear, seeing a dragon kiss the ogre’s rear, viewing cleavage on the “princess”, etc. wasn’t my idea of good entertainment. We stayed too long hoping it would improve. We did leave before the movie was over as we both had better things to do.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Dorothy Peckman, age 42
Very enjoyable movie. Good for the whole family to see. The animation was superb—hard to go back to the two dimensional cartoon characters after this one. I was somewhat annoyed by the over reliance on bathroom humor. They dipped into the gas joke gag too many times. Thought the donkey character played by Eddie Murphy was simply a resurrection of Mushu, not very original. The movie had a good pace, although it had some stale dialog and forced humor at times, especially anything to do with rear ends. A very funny scene where the prince chooses his princess I thought clever and creative. Felt the music was out of place—perhaps I never relate fairy tale characters to rock and roll. A princess bride type soundtrack would have been preferred. Overall, a pretty decent movie who’s special effects made it worth watching.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Jay Sneddon, age 37
This is a great family film! I highly recommend it for everyone. However, in all fairness, it ought to be said that Shrek does refer to his donkey friend as an “ass” twice, in a way calculated to play on the other meaning of that word, in a funny way. A parent who’s worried about his/her children imitating what they see and hear might have a problem with this.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 37
I have seen this movie twice already and enjoyed every second of it both times. It is a movie that can be appreciated on many levels. Children, I’d say from about ten years old and up, will love the fairy-tale, animation fun of it. Adults will enjoy the humor and the story is clever enough to keep them interested. The movie-lover will enjoy Shrek for all the “inside” jokes and spoofs. The movie has a good moral of the story and the action that leads to the point is captivating, well-written, funny and simply good ole’ entertainment. I recommend this film for everyone, especially those who need a good laugh and a good bit of relaxation.
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Lori Lundquist, age 27
Positive—“Shrek” has got to be one of the funniest movies ever made. In my opinion, the biggest laughs came from Shrek’s sidekick, a donkey, appropriately named Donkey, voiced by the always hilarious Eddie Murphy. There was some crude humor, which I thought to be necessary to give us an idea of the character of Shrek. There was also a tiny bit of sexual innuendo and mild language, neither of which were enough to ruin the film for me. If you haven’t seen “Shrek,” I must first ask you what rock you’ve been hiding under, and then strongly recommend picking up the DVD as soon as possible.
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Jared, age 27
Positive—I thought “Shrek” was an amazing movie. Though Shrek and Donkey are slightly low class, they are good characters deep down. I can’t really pick up many sexual hints in this movie, though I did hear one or two things that were uncalled for, but combined, they pale in comparison to King David’s Bathsheba-Uriah crime. I do not understand where people are going with Shrek’s “Do you think he’s compensating for something?” line when he sees DuLoc for the first time. Seriously, it has to do with Farquad’s height. In a very goofy movie, I was astonished how quickly Farquad was devoured. However, this part of the movie shows justice getting accomplished on evil.

Fiona does mention she was cursed by a witch as a child, but this was shown in a negative light. Shrek is not an evil ogre, he tries to solve problems over a pint (of alcohol, but no one gets drunk; good), but is pushed over the limit when people just want to panic over thin air. I think a lot of negative commentators are just trying to find things that weren’t supposed to be in the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Peter, age 22 (USA)
Comments from young people
“Shrek” is a very good movie! I went with 7 year olds, 11 year olds, and 14 year olds, and all of us loved it and were laughing the whole way through. Moviemaking quality I think was excellent, good story plot, and just plain fun! I would recommend Shrek to audiences of all ages! Bring your noble steed along with you!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Kaley, age 14
This is one of the greatest movies of the year! Even though I am a teenager, and this movie was directed at a smaller audience, I enjoyed it thoroughly even though I guessed the secret about the Princess earlier on. The ending was a happy twist, and I walked out of the cinema feeling just overwhelmed by the wonderful underlying moral message of this excellent family movie. The graphics are totally excellent, and I was happily surprised that Hollywood actually dared to put an ugly ogre as the main character rather than a charming prince… and unlike beauty and the beast, **Warning** May give hint to the surprise twist: the ending is Not a “everyone beautiful and pretty” moment. In fact, the meaning is deeper and very very touching.

This was such a good movie that the some of the audience was clapping at the end. From the Christian perspective, the only thing that may offend is perhaps a misuse of the Lord’s name, and definitely the last song in the movie, with the singer stating that his lookin’ at his girl’s face has “made him a believer.” Even though some might think it a bit cliche-ish, I’m sure most people will walk out of there feeling like they are at the top of the world… a true movie that relates to one of the deepest search of our lives—true love…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Nadia K, age 16
I wasted a completely good Saturday afternoon on this movie. The movie revolved around bathroom humor—I suppose wit is hard to come by these days. This movie is definitely not appropriate for children. I had very high expectations of this movie, big mistake. The animation was good, and Shrek does have a few funny scenes, but about an hour into the movie I wondered when it would end! If you want to see this movie, I recommend waiting until it comes out on video to save money and time.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3½]
—Noelle, age 17