Yee-haw! “Shrek and Donkey on another whirlwind adventure!”
If those words of Donkey’s don’t make you smile, you obviously haven’t seen Shrek, and need to run out and rent the DVD before we go any further. If you are a fan of this Academy Award-winning hit – and who isn’t since it’s one of the funniest and most inventive animated films ever made – you’ll probably be delighted to hear that Shrek 2 takes up where Shrek left off.
After winning the hand of the “fair” Princess Fiona, Shrek and the princess (again voiced by Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz) set out on a honeymoon, expecting to live happily ever after, but (a) Donkey tags along, and (b) Shrek has to meet his in-laws! As you might imagine, the King and Queen of the Kingdom of Far, Far Away (voiced by John Cleese and Julie Andrews) are horrified to discover that not only has their daughter married an ogre, she’s now one herself!
Needless to say, complications ensue, especially once the conceited Prince Charming arrives and is miffed to find an ogre with his intended. Add to this mix a swash-buckling Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas), a willful Fairy Godmother (Ab Fab’s Jennifer Saunders), and the motor-mouth Donkey’s (again Eddie Murphy) running commentary, and one can expect that the further adventures will be just as clever and inane as the first.
In preparation for Shrek’s second coming, we spoke with Kelly Asbury, one of the film’s directors. Asbury is a 20-year veteran in the animation industry, having worked as a storyboard artist on The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Toy Story. He was a story artist on the original Shrek. His previous directorial effort was the Academy Award-nominated animated feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.
We started out by asking how they came up with the storyline for Shrek 2.
“Our universal problem at the end of Shrek was that our villain was eaten by the dragon and our hero rode off into the sunset with the heroine. In a word, the film was over,” he explains. “So it took us some time to figure out where we might go with this new story.”
“The trap with sequels,” he adds, “is that people try to tell the same story all over again. We knew we needed to tell a new story. What we came up with was: What happens once happily ever after occurs? Where do Shrek and Fiona go, and what do they do? Well, he hadn’t met her parents yet …”
So this really is “the further adventures of …” At the same time, Shrek 2 dips back into the first film’s storyline and fills in the blanks on Prince Charming.
“In the first film,” Asbury explains, “the princess was waiting for the handsome prince to arrive and rescue her, but he never got there, because Shrek showed up. So now we have a chance to go back and find out what happened to Prince Charming.”
Shrek set a high standard by combining broad humor and subtle wit to spoof well-known fairy tales, which appealed to both children and adults in equal measure. Did Asbury and his colleagues manage to strike that same balance a second time?
“We tried to make a movie that appeals to a wide audience, young and old, just like the first one did,” he says. “I’ve talked to plenty of young children and even people in their 80s who said they love Shrek, so we strove to hang onto that magic.”
Asbury also notes that there are a lot of new characters in the second film and a great cast. “I think we come pretty close to capturing the spirit of the original,” he says.
Shrek 2 opens in theaters May 21.
Rated PG, as was Shrek.
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