Twenty years ago, history was made when the animated ogre love story "Shrek" was released in theaters on May 18, 2001. But this joyous anniversary has been marred, after the Guardian newspaper absolutely walloped our boy Shrek with a grumpy takedown and review.
The review assessed the film's quality in unconvincing fashion: the animation is compared to the uncanny valley, yet "Shrek" won the first-ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature (over "Monsters, Inc."!). A line near the beginning of the piece blames Shrek for spurring "many unfunny, awful-looking computer animated comedies that copied its formula of glib self-reference and sickly sweet sentimentality," but which specific films are left to the reader's imagination. We are supposed to infer that because "Shrek" has fart jokes, we are all simpletons for laughing.
And not to harp too much on the Oscar thing, but if this reviewer was so mad that "Shrek" got made in the first place, you'd think he'd mention the award win and be mad about that too. Right after he overlooks the film's permanent enshrining in a pretty significant group (Oscar winners), the author says "Shrek" hasn't stood the test of time. Well, it has for me!
It was probably sometime in 2002 when I received a "Shrek" VHS tape in the mail from a relative, with a Post-It Note recommending my parents pop the tape in the VCR for me. I remember watching it with my family and laughing. But I probably soon returned to playing something on the Gamecube. Remember VHS? Remember Gamecube? Congrats, you're retro now.
We're all dealing with how old we feel, and you come into Shrek's house, on his birthday, and call him unfunny? Someone's got to stick up for Shrek, or simply point out all the ways that "Shrek" has lingered on the web, and in my brain, for two decades.
I can no longer see "Shrek" as a simple slice of childhood nostalgia or "a movie I liked as a kid." I've seen too much of what we, the people, can do with "Shrek" — Shrek the GIF, all the "get out of meh swamp" audio that made its way into Youtube clips in my formative years. There were probably 1,000 remixes of Smash Mouth's "All Star."
What matters more than one critic's opinion is that "Shrek" mattered to people — "Shrek" mattered to me. Saved up for this historic 20th Shreksiversary, a.k.a. Shrekstivus, here are four things about "Shrek" that will live forever rent-free in my head.
Being assigned to work on the movie was called getting 'Shreked'
Once a month I see someone else discover this fun detail of "Shrek" lore in the same way they stumble upon that headline about the Costco hotdog. So we're gonna get this out of the way right now.
There was a lot of turnover in the staff, with writers and the director being replaced during production, Laporte writes in her book "The Men Who Would Be King: An Almost Epic Tale of Moguls, Movies, and a Company Called DreamWorks."
So the in-production "Shrek" served as sort of a B-team to other DreamWorks animators working on "The Prince of Egypt," according to the Post's review of Laporte's book.
Employees compared the work to a Soviet Gulag and getting reassigned to the project as "getting Shreked."
There were over 30 'Shrek' video games, and none of them were called Shrek All-Stars
We were blessed with wordy titles like "Shrek's Carnival Craze Party Games" and "Shrek: Swamp Fun with Phonics," along with simpler titles like the pithy, direct, "Shrek," released as a 2001 launch title on the original Xbox.
But I will never get over this — one of the teams turning the Shrek Cinematic Universe into products for our consumption sat down and came up with some ideas for games.
They thought up a Mario Party clone — featuring all the best characters from the movie. The all stars, if you will.
And what did they title the game? Shrek Super Party.
This just seems like a missed opportunity.
Chris Farley was initially going to play Shrek
The "Tommy Boy" and "Beverly Hills Ninja" star and "Saturday Night Live" cast member was the inspiration for some of the titular character, Laporte wrote in her book.
There's even a YouTube clip of Farley reading some lines with Eddie Murphy, who plays Donkey. Tragically, Farley died in 1997 at the age of 33.
Losing Farley as the lead threw the already chaotic project into further jeopardy. But eventually Mike Myers, another former SNL cast member, took over and re-recorded Farley's lines and finished the rest.
No staying power? World-renowned supermodel Heidi Klum was Princess Fiona for Halloween...in 2018
Good for her, TBH.