Making the Grades
Near a bubbly soupy swamp in a forest of strange creatures, lives the ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Meyers of Saturday Night Live and Austin Powers fame). Feared and hunted by townspeople (all "normal" humans), the large ugly green being with horns for ears has grown accustomed to his solitary life... until the day when ruler of the land, Lord Farquaad (voiced by John Lithgow), decides to administer an ethnic cleansing of sorts. Rounding up the strange fairy tale characters living amongst the people, he orders them to reside in a designated area--Shrek's peaceful swamp.
Amongst the throng of things like a wooden doll with a growing nose and an old woman with scads of children living in a shoe, is a wisecracking non-stop talking donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy) who anxiously wants to accompany Shrek to Farquaad's castle and assist in convincing the ruler to let the creatures roam freely again. Reluctantly, Shrek agrees to take Donkey (as he is simply named) to see the prince. But Farquaad will only agree to restore the swamp to its original splendor if the twosome can deliver Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), who is imprisoned by a dragon in a far away castle. With purpose and haste, Shrek sets off on his quest with Donkey in tow.
This hybrid fairy tale contains enough irreverent humor to keep audiences--and parents--upright in their seats. Shrek is the type of guy who enjoys blowing flatulent bubbles in his swamp water, and Donkey--not surprisingly--resembles Eddie Murphy after he's been fitted with a crude humor muzzle. Then there's the princess. Let's just say she's not quite what you'd expect either.
Shrek does have its laughable moments, and strengthens its theme of racial tolerance in a humorous way. Yet the bathroom humor, double entendre sexual jokes (hopefully vague enough to pass by young children), occasional cartoon style violence, and handful of mild profanities (including a synonym for "donkey"), may leave some parents wondering if the good makes up for the bad and the ugly in this movie.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Shrek.
Can you see parallel examples between the story told in Shrek and the injustices done to the Jews and other races by Adolph Hitler during World War II? How does the characterization of Lord Farquaad add to this comparison?
While we may not see big green ogres in our society today, what types of people are often misjudged or not invited to be part of mainstream community life?