Review: Shrek 2

I was in the minority in finding Shrek to be middling entertainment. The idea of spoofing fairy tales, giving them a modern makeover, replete with satire and irony, wasn't as original to me as it was to most.
Shrek 2 veers off the path of the fairy tale spoofs, which fall flat for me, and dabbles more in pop culture satire, which I enjoy. The movie plays like a longer, more child-safe episode of The Simpsons with more expensive and realistic animation. Though the humor doesn't cut quite as sharp as a Simpsons's episode,
Shrek 2 machine-guns jokes at the audience throughout, and enough of them hit their mark to leave me chuckling more often than not. The jokes that miss, like the dozens of commercial store and product name spoofs, don't get enough screen time to dampen the proceedings.
Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, hell, Antonio Banderas as himself, was a caricature waiting to happen. In fact, SNL's Chris Kattan already did it, and Antonio spoofed himself in the Desperado sequels. Banderas can make a living off this niche alone.
The high-tech animation does little for me. That's not what's entertaining about Shrek. It looks expensive and detailed, to be sure, but we've long since passed the point where that's original or awe-inspiring, and in a satire it's not really even appropriate.
The Simpsons, any Pixar movie, Shrek, and even to some extent The Sopranos are entertainment franchises with legs because they are not really about what they are about. They are malleable vessels for transporting pop culture references and jokes in a sugar-coated, easy-to-swallow gel cap form. Times change, you just update the jokes and use the same containers. And, in the case of Shrek and the Pixar movies, the animated format means adults can bring their kids.
And that broad demographic appeal is box office gold. It's no accident Shrek and Fiona are colored green.
FOOTNOTE: You can watch the first 5 minutes of Shrek 2 online, a rarely used marketing tactic.