Shrek: A Meme and a Masterpiece

I have seen so many damn memes of this movie over the years that it’s hard to take this movie seriously anymore. It’s kind of twisted my childhood nostalgia for it into something bizarre that I can’t really describe. But I’m going to put all of that aside as best as I can and look at the movie for what it is.

Luckily, what it is is a highly enjoyable animated adventure.

Shrek is an ogre that enjoys an isolated life of tormenting village peasants and bathing in mud. But one day, a whole city’s worth of fairy tale creatures are sent to live with him by Lord Farquad. In order to reclaim his nice quiet life, he goes on a journey to rescue the princess Fiona from a dragon so the little tyrant can marry her. But on this quest, the ogre finds that he isn’t what he always thought himself to be.

It’s a simple and remarkably well executed story, the perfect kid’s movie. The characters are all likable and memorable, the plot is a steady stream of fun adventure and comedy, it fires on all cylinders. It’s everything a kid’s movie needs to be: quick, fun, and exciting. Not only that, but it’s a remarkably clever (and vicious) deconstruction of Disney and corporate cinema.

Which has become somewhat ironic, considering its… many sequels.

The animation also holds up surprisingly well for an early-2000s 3D animated movie. The models are simple yet full of detail and all of the environments feel alive, from the swamp to the dragon’s castle. You can see its age in everything, yes. But that adds more to the visuals than it detracts. It’s more stylistic than anything.

One thing that I’m not a huge fan of is the music. I’ve never been much a fan of licensed music, and Shrek is packed full of it. It certainly doesn’t help that ‘All-Star’ by Smash Mouth has been memed straight to hell so I can’t take it seriously anymore. None of the songs are unbearable, but they all show the film’s age more than the visuals.

Shrek isn’t a complicated movie. Nor is it a bad one. It’s still a wildly enjoyable movie for both kids and adults. It’s the kind of movie that I can watch anytime, anywhere, even all these years later.

Even if some of the memes have made certain scenes impossible to take seriously.

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