A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shrek the Musical is a DVD release of the Broadway musical based on the Shrek animated movie. It has basically the same plot and characters and even much of the same dialogue as is in the original Shrek movie but with added song-and-dance numbers. As with its predecessor, it has quite a bit of adult innuendo, potty humor, and gross-out jokes, though the musical does seem to have a bit more adult humor than the cartoon. The play also adds more backstory to main characters Shrek and Fiona, both of which are quite dark and a little scary: Shrek is sent off by his parents at age 7 to fend for himself, and Fiona is sent to live in a tower alone as a young girl. There's also some mild profanity ("damn" and "hell") and some scary scenes with characters being threatened with execution and Shrek being chased by townsfolk with torches and pitchforks.
What's the story?
Shrek (Brian D'Arcy James), a hilariously grumpy ogre, finds his swamp taken over by fairy tale characters who've been banished by the evil Lord Farquaad (Christopher Sieber). In exchange for getting his swamp back, Shrek agrees to rescue the princess Fiona (Sutton Foster) from a fire-breathing dragon so she can marry Lord Farquaad. Shrek reluctantly sets off to save Fiona with the hilarious talking donkey, Donkey (Daniel Breaker). On their adventure, Shrek, Donkey, and Fiona all learn that appearances can be deceiving, and they learn the true meaning of friendship.
Is it any good?
As with Shrek the movie, SHREK THE MUSICAL is funny, clever, and charming, for all the same reasons the movie is. It takes your typical fairy tale characters and turns them upside down, making the ogre the hero and the princess anything but princess-y. Many of the same jokes and favorite lines from the movie are in the play, and often they're just as funny, but sometimes they seem to miss the mark when played by real actors dressed up as, for example, a big green ogre or a talking donkey. Also, somehow the burps and gross-out humor seem even grosser when not delivered by a cartoon character.
Mostly the play itself feels somewhat unnecessary. Shrek the movie hit all the right notes, with hilarious voice actors, silly humor, and a really great soundtrack. Shrek the musical doesn't really add anything to the mix that's better than the movie. Although the actors are very talented, none of the songs is memorable. And, although many of the sets are impressive (there's a giant puppet dragon and some great dance sequences), they don't catch your attention the same way on video they would if you saw them on stage. Kids will probably be entertained by the play's humor, but they may be bored by the numerous songs and the play's more-than-two-hour run time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Why do you think they made Shrek into a musical? Do you think it works as a musical, or do you like the movie version better?
There are a lot of references to Disney movies and other Broadway-based movies in the play. Which ones did you notice?
Do you like the songs in the play? Do you like them better than the music in the movie? Why, or why not?
For kids who love musicals
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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.