“Ogres are like onions…onions have layers. Ogres have layers!” – Shrek
This is a movie that, after 15 years, still holds up. I remember watching it long ago when I was just a little kid. I remember it being a good time – there was just something very visually appealing about it, and the visual gags helped a lot to entertain the 6 or 7 year old I was at the time. It really wasn’t until I was older – sometime in my teens – that I noticed the more adult jokes that were a part of the movie, which really added some depth to the movie for me.
It’s evident from the very beginning of the movie the that this is a total deconstruction of the traditional fairy tale – you know, the ones about the princesses trapped in the tower, guarded by some sort of powerful foe (normally a dragon), with a Prince Charming to save her. Only Prince Charming is an ogre, and the princess trapped in a tower is a strong-as-nails fighter who only tries to fulfill the princess-like position.
Shrek nails this goal of turning the traditional fairy tale on its head. Shrek isn’t your regular every-day hero, and very often the world is against him. Ogres aren’t supposed to rescue the princess. They’re not normally a true love. They’re not heroes. Oftentimes, they’re the monsters and villains of the story, and while Shrek is a monster, that doesn’t mean that he’s a monster. The filmmakers are able to make Shrek relatable to the audience – someone we can root for, instead of root against.
The film’s other plays on the regular fairy tales, like Pinocchio, the 3 Little Pigs and the Big, Bad Wolf are all enjoyable. This movie has such a sense of self-awareness that it lovingly offers respect to the fairytale characters they are lampooning while also giving them a hilarious twist, and it’s great.
There are just so many broken conventions in this movie. You do have a beautiful princess, but she turns into an ogre after sunset. Instead of a noble steed, you have a donkey. The dragon isn’t killed – she becomes the donkey’s love interest. It’s fantastic.
There simply aren’t enough positive adjectives I can give this movie – it’s great, and if you haven’t watched it, you should. This is truly a family-friendly film, and it’s such a good time. Please watch it.
In retrospect, it was an incredible thing to do – make a scary, gross, green ogre lovable. And they succeeded in their endeavors.