I saw a Shrek film in 2004.
Six thirty screening of what is nominally a children’s film: chock full of creepy, balding blokes stroking their dubious missus’ lank locks in sweaty anticipation.
Where are the actual target demo (kill me)?
Seriously- the cinema is full of charcoal pinstripe, laptops and Crumplers.
Four kids, tops.
And me: trying in vain to telekinetically fast forward the multiple excruciating Dreamworks/ HP adverts exploiting the associated goodwill of the various Shrek characters.
I know I should expect this sort of bullshit, but that hardly softens the blow. Being a naive, gullible sort, I’d cheerfully signed up for a couple hours of life-affirming, vaguely condescending computer generated pap.
I seemed to remember thinking the first one was actually pretty decent.
And, for all intents and purposes, I may as well have sauntered down to the local DVD emporium and saved myself a cool five nicker or so: Shrek 2 is just a shamelessly calculated retread, innit?
Granted, it features piles of ‘slumming it’ Pom thesps collecting their hefty Hollywood meal tickets (see also: Harry Potter); they occasionally even elevate the material to the point of ‘mildly chuckle worthy’.
But you’d think talent of the calibre of Jennifer Saunders (Evil Fairy Godmother/ Sweatshop Tyrant), Julie Christie (Long Suffering Queen Mum) and Rupert Everett (Vain, Foppish Prince Charming) would be utilised a little more inventively, though, wouldn’t you?
And you, Cleese! Get up here on the double- what, those Life of Brian DVD sales aren’t keeping you in battered kippers and dead parrots or something? That’s at least four too many franchise oriented celluloid travesties out of you, young man! Now go to your room and have a good hard look at young Terry Gilliam’s output over the last twenty odd years!
That leaves us with the principal players: a man renowned for ‘poobumweefart!’ jokes and affecting an inexplicable ‘Scoots Brrroogue’; a Squealing Valley Girl Moron who actually roots JT; a once decent comedian clinging onto the last vestiges of a sinking career; and the bloke that had the sublime bad luck of marrying Melanie Griffiths.
What’s left then, is that perennial favourite, the ‘Hey kids! Beauty is only skin deep!’ ‘lesson’, and a shameless production line of pop references.
All of which are destined to cruise straight over the heads of all four poor wee nippers in the audience.
Indiana Jones? Zorro?! Sweatshop labour??! Versace?!! Starbucks??!!
What self respecting youngster knows of and/or cares about such things?
Jesus- imagine that giddy ‘creative’ meeting at the DreamWorks Gulag when Katzenberg et al realised they could deliver spectacular reams of product placement under the innocuous banner of irony- and smack dab in the middle of a family entertainment, no less! And how about if every joke is entirely predicated on intimate knowledge of and consumption of said materials, most of which are related to DreamWorks founders in one fashion or another?
Also, apropos of nothing: I really do feel for the pleb that got the job of digitally modelling the big jade lad’s realistically swaying wang.
That’s a seriously fucked up line of work.
Where the rest of society seem to see good, clean, family friendly japery, Im seeing some depraved flip-dimensional procession of hackneyed intertextual references and cynically overt product shilling.
But surely, just once in a blockbuster season, those bastards in Hollywood could get it together, check the hipster credentials at the door, hire a conscience and just do it for the kids, for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus?