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. "Shrek 2"

This 3-D animated comedy exploits the endearing character of the ogre with a display of creative talent that's nothing if not ingenious. Its computer graphics achieves state-of-the-art expression while its writers produce a steady stream of comedy, from one-liners to sight-gags to situational hilarity. There's much fun in one more romp in the company of the monster with a heart of green-gold.

In the first installment, Shrek (Mike Myers voicing) proves his ogre chops by battling a fire-breathing dragon and defeating the evil Lord Farquaad in order to rescue the fair Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Beyond his wildest dreams and hopes, she accepts his hand in marriage, serves compatibility by turning ogreish and, in this continuation, the happy couples domestic bliss in the swamp is interrupted by an invitation from the in-laws. Together with the inescapable Donkey (Eddie Murphy), they journey in a covered wagon to the kingdom that her parents rule, Far, Far Away.

The entire population turns out to join King Harold and Queen Lillian (John Cleese and Julie Andrews) welcome their long lost and refound daughter but none is ready for the physical change nor her choice of husband. Something will have to be done and the person to do it is the Fairy Godmother with her tricks of magic. Of course, with all her powers, she's been unable to effect her son Prince Charming from grasping his heirdom to the throne by waking the princess with a kiss, and this has her enraged and determined to take Shrek down.

Most impressive in terms of human-like expression is achieved in the character of Princess Fiona. Perhaps it's a feature of the facial design but whoever concentrated on her animation never let his/her eyes off the little newlywed. Her character is alive all the way and especially well realized in the quiet, reactive moments.

Taste is tested, with some humor bordering on the crude. But there's so much effective humor and hilarious one-liners in one-second throwaways to keep the amusement meter high, it's hardly a concern. What it is, is a treat for the funnybone.

On top of the voiced performances by an excellent cast, and the CGI mastery by the animation team, major credit for this accomplishment go to directors Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Princess Fiona and Shrek
Home (hers) at last. Facing the familial music.

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