All too often a sequel doesn't live up to the appeal and success of the original. But every now and then, a film matches or surpasses the first. Shrek 2 may be one of those rare movies that find the pattern for improving on its predecessor.
After completing a quest in Shrek to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona (voice by Cameron Diaz), the husky ogre (voice by Mike Myers) and lovely damsel were married. Now their idyllic honeymoon, snuggling on a sandy beach and running through fields of daisies, is over and the newlyweds are returning to their cozy little shack in the swamp.
While they've been away, Shrek's friend Donkey (voice by Eddie Murphy) has been taking care of the place... sort of. Fortunately, aside from a scummy bowl of floating goldfish and a pile of unattended mail, the place needs only a little attention from the lovebirds to get it back in order.
However, housekeeping is forgotten when a royal invitation arrives from Fiona's parents in the land of Far, Far Away. Following their blissful days of early matrimony, Shrek is uneasy about leaving the swamp to meet the in-laws. But when the discussion turns into a nasty spat, he gives into Fiona's wishes despite his better judgment. Packing up their onion carriage, the couple sets out to meet the parents with Donkey in tow.
Unfortunately neither King Harold (voice by John Cleese) nor Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) is expecting an ogre for a son-in-law.
When the local Fairy Godmother (voice by Jennifer Saunders) finds out the news, she is none too happy either. Reminding the King about their previous agreement to wed his daughter to her son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), she threatens to whip up a little black magic unless the royal father-in-law finds a way to get rid of Shrek. Hiring the services of the notorious bandit, Puss-In-Boots (voice by Antonio Banderas), King Harold thinks he has things taken care of until he realizes how much his daughter loves her new husband.
Flatulence is still a common gag in this script along with a cross-dressing bartender and thong-wearing puppet. But there are less crude jokes and sexual innuendo than the first film had. In fact, marriage seems to have mellowed the grumpy, green ogre who isn't quite as apt to go berserk. And even the irritating, talk-a-holic Donkey doesn't push the edge as much.
Although much of the humor---parodying Hollywood, fairytales and old films ---will appeal more to mom and dad, hopefully not all of the film's messages will be lost on young viewers. Putting their love and patience to the test, the characters in the land of Far, Far Away discover that true happiness may mean accepting one another---warts and all.