I went to see Shrek by accident. A friend phoned me one evening after I'd spent a long, hard day at work, and I thought I could do with a break, even if the entertainment was only passable, as I expected, having been unimpressed by badly chosen promotional clips. I stayed in the film by accident. After just two lines of Mike Myers' agonising 'Scots' accent (apparently a version of his mother's attempts), whose vowels ranged from Glasgow to Fife to Outer Mongolia, I was honestly thinking about leaving - I didn't think I could put up with that for two hours - but then the animation got me.

There is a long tradition of the public going gooey over amazing new-style special technology animation which is, in fact, a big pile of pants. The BBC productions The Box of Delights and The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance, were hyped up by the media and the public as being breathtakingly wonderful. Sorry. Those were shite programmes with shite animation, and it was painfully visible at the time.

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Hearing the hype about Shrek, I naturally considered it a plaything of the same conspiracy. How delicious to be proved wrong. It actually is amazing. Shadows, textures, background movement, everything is put together with scarcely a flaw; there are one or two scenes near the end which might easily be live action. Not only that, but this animation is used subtly and intelligently, with great humour, never pushing things further than the technology will allow.

Accent aside, Mike Myers works well enough in the lead. Cameron Diaz is amazingly good, in a role which, for technical reasons, was extremely difficult; I've only seen her in shite films before, but I've always been rather struck by her; she is probably the single best comic actress of her generation. Even Eddie Murphy is perfect in his part, and avoids being irritating. This is vital in a story which cenres as much around personality and personal chemistry as an adventure-packed plot.

Visually, the film is incredibly dense, packed with jokes and references which come across as humorous improvement rather than feeble spoof. Its musical scenes are unusually powerful, its wit remarkably vicious, its central love story genuinely touching. Altogether, it's one of the best fairytale films ever made, right up there with The Princess Bride.

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2007
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The story of Shrek the Ogre, a creature that looks like a cross between Danny de Vito and something that just fell out of your nose...
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Read more Shrek reviews:

Symon Parsons ****1/2
Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Writer: Ted Elliott, based on the book by William Steig

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassel, Peter Dennis, Clive Pearse, Jim Cummings, Bobby Block, Chris Miller, Cody Cameron

Year: 2001

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: U - Universal

Country: US

Festivals:

EIFF 2011

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If you like this, try:

Shrek 2
Shrek The Third