After Shrek rescues Fiona at the end of the first film, it is revealed that ‘love’s true form’ turns her into an ogre too. The obvious question at the end of that story is what will happen when the couple have to go back to the wider world – and here, we find out. Fiona’s parents are the king and queen of Far, Far Away, and quite brilliantly cast, being played by the unlikely but inspired coupling of John Cleese and Julie Andrews. However, the Fairy Godmother, a powerful figure in the city, has a plan to get her own son Prince Charming into the picture in place of Shrek. So not only must the new couple deal with the insecurities that come from not looking like the expected beautiful fairytale prince and princess, but they must contend with potions that can force a person to fall in love or change their appearance altogether, and a conniving woman who knows how to use – and misuse – them.
I didn’t particularly like the first Shrek film. I felt its humour was forced, its aesthetic underwhelming and its world somewhat dull. This film brought with it more inventive and clever performances, fantastic music and a neat plot that left enough loose ends for a further sequel – even if that one was something of a disappointment. The Shrek films may be Dreamworks’ flagship, but they’re certainly not my favourites. Of them, though, and not counting the excellent Puss in Boots, this one was the most worthy of praise. Even the annoying side characters like Pinocchio are genuinely funny here – and of course, it was where Puss had his debut; much of the humour of his subsequent appearances was simply repetition or slight variation of the funny moments he has here, one of the best gags in Shrek the 3rd being when he tries to look cute while in Donkey’s body. Certainly one of the better animated sequels out there.
Even if in the wake of Game of Thrones I can’t look at Prince Charming for a moment without seeing Jaime Lannister.