Tired of bloated war movies and over-dramatic monster-hunting flicks?
Tell you what. Watch Shrek 2. Filled with ecstatic fun for most of its 92 minutes, Shrek 2 deserves a warm welcome by young and adult fans alike.
For producer and distributor DreamWorks, the animation adventure with a lesson to learn could be a giant hit at the box office.
The magic of the first Shrek has worn out a bit. The humour isn't as fresh as in the first film, which became an instant classic. Also, the digs at rival Disney's animation classics seems a bit overdone the second time.
It also comes with several delightful new characters, especially the one given voice by Antonio Banderas. Banderas pays a wonderful homage to his Zorro (from The Mask Of Zorro).
The sequel starts with the honeymoon of Shrek (in the voice of Mike Myers), and his no-longer-so-beautiful bride Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Butting into the honeymoon is the Donkey (Eddie Murphy), who is insensitive to the honeymooners.
He joins them on their overland journey to meet Fiona's parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) of Far Far Away, where a royal ball is scheduled in their honour.
The royal couple have no idea their daughter has married an ogre and has been radically transformed.
Shrek, who was reluctant to make the trip, is not really surprised at the shocked reaction of the royals and the people. One of the highlights in Shrek 2 is his confrontation with the king at dinner.
In the middle of continuing tension at the palace, Fiona's Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders) schemes with the king to eliminate Shrek. Why? So that Fiona can fulfil her destiny by marrying Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who also happens to be the Fairy Godmother's son.
King Harold hires mercenary swordsman Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), known for his ogre-killing abilities. Rattled by Puss for a few minutes, Shrek not only domesticates him, but also enlists him to defeat the Fairy Godmother's plan.
But fighting the Fairy Godmother, who knows plenty of royal secrets, is not easy. The second half of the film includes many adventurous challenges to her schemes by Shrek, ably assisted by the faithful Donkey and Puss.
Shrek and Donkey smell success when they get hold of 'Happily Ever After' potion from the Godmother's laboratory. The stuff not only turns Shrek into a handsome man, but also transforms Donkey into a glorious white stallion. What's more, Fiona regains her beauty.
Determined not to give up, the Godmother separates Shrek and Fiona and tries to convince her that Prince Charming is actually Shrek.
Now, the film offers some suspense for the young viewers. Will Shrek make it back to the castle before the prince successfully woos Fiona?
The rousing and amusing finale sees a raft of fairytale characters re-entering the scene. When they finally win, Shrek and his team have to decide whether to accept their new status or go back to their previous appearances.
While Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz are as delightful as in the first film, Saunders has more fun, thanks to some high-spirited musical interludes. Banderas brings a bit of nastiness and plenty of humour later on to his character.
Watch out for a couple of cameos that include Larry King as the transvestite Ugly Stepsister bartender and Joan Rivers as herself, as a commentator at the red-carpeted royal ball.
Among many technical accomplishments, what stands out is the way the body language of many actors, including Eddie Murphy, has been captured in the animated work.
Voices: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, Rupert Everett, Jennifer Saunders
Directors: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
Writers: Andrew Adamson, Joe Stillman, J David Stern, David N Weiss
Story: Andrew Adamson, based on the book by William Steig
Running time: 92 minutes