What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Vicky Jensen and Andrew Adamson’s Shrek? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
This week’s film:
Stars: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy
Director: Vicky Jensen, Andrew Adamson
Production Co: Pacifica Data Images
Written by: Ben Steiner
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Kevin Winzer and Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey (http://www.ryanhaileydotcom.com)
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Produced by: Jacob S. Salamon
Shrek’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Shrek, the very first winner of the Best Animated Feature Oscar, even though the animation is creepy as hell.
The film takes place in one of Earth’s fairy tale kingdoms, like Never Never Land or Scandinavia. Our protagonist is former Batman villain Max Shrek, a big green ogre who lives alone in a spacious one bedroom loft. But when a bunch of squatters are forced onto his land by royal decree, Shrek ain’t havin’ none o’ that, not no how! Shrek goes to appeal to Lord Facebook , and uses an extremely talkative GPS to get to Silicon Valley. Lord Facebook agrees to give Shrek his land back on the condition that Shrek rescue some princess for him to force into his outdated conception of patriarchy.
So Shrek and Donkey meander on over to the nearby volcano castle and rescue Princess Fiona from a dragon who’s all about that vape life. Fiona thinks Shrek is a prince because a small portion of his face is obscured by a helmet that he put on for basically no reason, but then he takes it off and she gets bummed that he’s an uggo. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle hypocritical, don’t you think. Also, she doesn’t even try to contact her family once she’s free. Who’s the ogre now?
Soon Shrek and Fiona warm up to each other, even experimenting with a little butt play. But then Donkey finds out Fiona has been cursed to turn into an ogre every night. Still better than finding out she’s an ogre the next morning, am I right fellas? Fiona and Shrek get in a big fight based on a simple misunderstanding that would be cleared up in five seconds if either one of them stopped talking so vaguely, and Shrek delivers Fiona to Lord Facebook. Donkey waits until Shrek is wee wee wee wee all the way home before finally getting around to telling him he misunderstood the misunderstanding. So they how to train their dragon back to Facebook HQ toot sweet.
They don’t do an all out ripoff of The Graduate, since Mike Myers has done that already, but Shrek does stop the wedding. Fiona transforms and the disgusted Lord Facebook tries to put on his ad blocker, so the dragon enables cookies. Shrek and Fiona kiss, which breaks the curse. Mmm, breaks it all night! Only she’s a ogre now instead of a hot girl. Oh well. They do humanity’s most popular and timeless dance, the macarena, before ending the film on a somber note: a tribute to Eric Garner and other victims of police violence.
Shrek undermines the idealistic perfection that pervades traditional fairytale stories, in particular Disney’s superficial and overly-sentimental offerings. May our Disney overlords forgive and protect me. Throughout the story, the film takes potshots at several of the beloved characters associated with classic Disney IP. Robert Hood and his merry men are depicted as a bunch of creepy Frenchmen who kidnap young girls and probably smell like cheese. Cinderella is presented as a “mentally abused shut-in”, and Shrek dismisses Sleeping Beauty as just another piece of clutter. Though to be fair, I have the same rule about my kitchen table.
The film’s anti-Disney agenda is most evident in its central characters, by which I mean the characters in the center of the screen. Shrek’s first action is literally wiping his ass with a page from a book of fairytales, and his second action does not appear to be washing his hands. He brushes his teeth with slime and farts like no one’s watching, the opposite of the glamorous entrance usually awarded to clenched-up Disney heroes.
Fiona eventually comes to her senses, but initially she behaves like a stereotypical Disney princess. She expects to be swept off her Sketchers in the storybook manner, with acts of chivalry and grand, dramatic gestures. However, the character who espouses these characteristics is the most odious character in the film, and also has the lamest haircut.
The film’s numerous attacks on the Disney aesthetic were purported to be the result of a feud between Disney CEO Michael Eisner and his former whipping boy, Jeffrey “J Money” Katzenberg. Under Eisner, Katzenberg ran Disney’s movie and television division for a decade, and was responsible for revitalizing Disney’s stale animated film catalog with hits such as The Little Fish Lady, Interracial Couple, and The Genie Saves Hanukkah. Despite Katzenberg’s efforts, Disney refused to promote him, so Katzenberg left to start Dreamworks out of pure spite.
Some believe that Katzenberg based the Lord Facebook character on Eisner, while I maintain that Eisner was based on him. Either way, Lord Facebook’s kingdom is a dead ringer for Disneyland, complete with employees in ridiculous costumes and puppets singing incessantly about what a small and pitiful world Earth is.
Katzenberg and his new friends at Dreamworks criticize the idea that the beautiful are destined for greater rewards than “normal,” less valuable people. Typically, at the end of a fairytale, the lovely princess and handsome hero live “happily ever after.” Shrek rejects this narrative by making both of its heroes ugly, thereby suggesting that their marriage will be rocky and require sacrifice on both sides. And isn’t that the ending we really deserve?
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.