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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shrek includes some edgy humor directed at teens and adults. The jokes that teens and adults snicker at (like when Shrek wonders whether the small Lord Farquaad is compensating for something with his very tall castle) will be over the head of most younger kids, but parents should be ready for some questions. There's also plenty of potty humor and gross-out jokes directed at kids – mostly based on the appalling personal habits of ogres. Scary scenes for young ones include fights with guards, villagers coming after Shrek with pitchforks, and a fire-breathing dragon (who turns nice when she falls for Donkey). A bird explodes, and its eggs are eaten, and a character is eaten in one gulp by the dragon, but it's not graphic.
What's the story?
SHREK has an enchanted princess in a tower, guarded by a fire-breathing dragon. It has a donkey that not only talks, and not only sings, but sings the old Monkees' song, "I'm a Believer." It has an evil (but short) bad guy, kickboxing, a Robin Hood and Merry Men who perform an Irish Riverdance, potty humor, and some digs at Disney. It has sensational animation, adventure, romance, and laughter. And most of all, it has Shrek, a big, green ogre who lives happily alone in a swamp until Lord Farquaad of nearby Dulac sets out to create the perfect kingdom by getting rid of all of the fairy tale characters and sending them to "a designated resettlement community." Soon, the three blind mice, the three little pigs, the gingerbread man, all the broom-flying witches, Pinocchio, and a talking donkey are all relocated to the swamp. Shrek is furious at the intrusion. He makes a deal with Farquaad, who needs to marry a princess to put the final touch on his kingdom. Shrek will rescue Princess Fiona and bring her to Farquaad, and Farquaad will give Shrek his swamp back.
Is it any good?
The movie is a marvelous fairy tale, with a thrilling quest and a happily-ever-after ending. Shrek has the great themes of enduring myths, about believing in yourself, being loved for the person you really are, and good triumphing over evil. It is also a delicious satire, tweaking all of our assumptions about ogres, princesses, rescues, and even fire-breathing dragons. The voice talents of Mike Myers (as the Scottish-burred Shrek), Eddie Murphy (as Donkey the talking donkey), Cameron Diaz (as Princess Fiona), and John Lithgow (as Farquaad) are all perfect.
The computer animation is breathtaking for its time, like nothing seen before it. The textures are stunning. The glass, fire, clouds, and water seem three-dimensional, and you will feel that Donkey's fur almost brushes your hand. The animation has wonderful warmth and depth, but it also has a great deal of character and wit. The facial expressions and body language are such a treat that the audience can't help thinking that if ogres and donkeys and don't really look like that, they should.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Donkey's statement that Shrek has "that kind of 'I don't care what nobody thinks of me' thing." Is it true that Shrek didn't care what people thought of him? How can you tell? What did it mean to say that ogres are like onions? What does it mean to say that people have layers?
Princess Fiona expected Prince Charming to save her, and Shrek came instead. How did she change her mind about him? How did it help her to accept herself? Why is self-acceptance so important?
- In theaters: May 18, 2001
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 2001
- Cast: Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers
- Directors: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses and fairies, Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
- Character strengths: Curiosity, Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language and some crude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.