Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time

"Shrek" Films

Shrek (2001)

Shrek Films
Shrek (2001) | Shrek 2 (2004) | Shrek the Third (2007) | Shrek Forever After (2010)

"Shrek" Films - Part I
Shrek (2001)
d. Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson, 91 minutes

Film Plot Summary

A large, stylized fairytale book was opened (a reference to Sleeping Beauty (1959), the christening curse), and the text was read outloud (in voice-over) as the leaves of the pages turned:

Once upon a time, there was a lovely princess. But she had an enchantment upon her of a fearful sort which could only be broken by love's first kiss. She was locked away in a castle guarded by a terrible fire-breathing dragon. Many brave knights had attempted to free her from this dreadful prison, but none prevailed. She waited in the dragon's keep in the highest room of the tallest tower for her true love and true love's first kiss.

Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) laughed and shut the book while reading it in his outhouse: "Like that's ever gonna happen. What a load of... (sound of toilet flush)." Torn out pages were used by Shrek as toilet paper.

Introduced by the tune "All Star" performed by Smash Mouth (during the credits), Shrek was a large, surly, sarcastic, wisecracking, Scottish-accented greenish ogre with a round face and stinky breath, who took a mud shower outdoors near his swamp home, and blew fart bubbles in a mud pool. He had "Beware Ogre" signs posted around his dwelling, and there were Wanted Signs (with a reward) for the arrest of the Ogre and other Fairytale Creatures. Nearby villagers with torches surrounded his home that evening, but he scared them off. The next day in town, various fairytale creatures (a unicorn, a witch, Pinocchio, an irrepressible talking Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy), etc.) were being sold by their owners and then caged, due to the orders of diminutive aristocrat Lord Farquaad (voice of John Lithgow) who had banished Fairytale characters into exile. They were to be transported to resettlement facilities. When freed with the ogre's help, the wisecracking Donkey begged to stay with Shrek as his sidekick: "I'll stick with you. You're a mean, green, fightin' machine. Together, we'll scare the spit out of anybody that crosses us," but the green ogre wanted to live peacefully by himself ("I like my privacy").

That evening in Shrek's cottage, the reclusive Shrek sat alone at his dinner table, where his solitary life was further disrupted by the intrusive arrival of Three Blind Mice, the Seven Dwarfs, the glass-covered casket of sleeping Snow White, and the Big Bad Wolf (dressed in grandma's pajamas) sitting in his bed. Outside were a whole host of Fairytale Creatures, including the Pied Piper, and the Three Bears, who had set up camp there. Pinocchio and the Three Little Pigs (voice of Cody Cameron) explained how they were forced to come there by Lord Farquaad, who had signed an eviction notice. Shrek vowed to visit with Farquaad to "get you all off my land and back where you came from." He would be accompanied by faithful, talkative, annoying tag-a-long Donkey: "two stalwart friends, off on a whirlwind big-city adventure," to the tune of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again."

Meanwhile, the nefarious, narcissistic midget Lord Farquaad (in the town of DuLoc), with a Prince Valiant haircut, had ordered his masked men to torture the sarcastic Gingerbread Man (voice of Conrad Vernon) (reminiscent of SNL's clay Mr. Bill character), by dunking him in a glass of milk. Farquaad forcibly wanted to know the whereabouts of the other detestable Fairytale creatures: "You and the rest of that fairy tale trash, poisoning my perfect world." Farquaad's guards brought in a long-prized object, the Magic Mirror (voice of Chris Miller) (from Disney's Snow White film) - which told him that he wasn't technically a king yet, but could become one by marrying a princess. In a parody of the popular TV show The Dating Game (including the show's music and pop-art daisy motifs), he was given the choice of three eligible bachelorette princesses: Cinderella, Snow White, or fiery redhead Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz), residing in a dragon-guarded castle surrounded by hot boiling lava. After Lord Farquaad chose the third candidate, he was about to be told about "the little thing that happens at night" to Fiona - but was silenced. The cowardly Farquaad proposed that there be a tournament.

Shrek and the Donkey journeyed to Farquaad's 40 stories-high castle at DuLoc (a spoof of Disney World), where the parking lot (named after character Lancelot) and town square were seemingly deserted and quiet. After entering a turnstile, they came upon an information booth, where a group of singing wooden puppets (a spoof of Disney's sugary It's a Small World) sang the song "Welcome to DuLoc" about the town's rules: "...DuLoc is a perfect place, Please keep off of the grass, Shine your shoes, wipe your...face, DuLoc is, DuLoc is, DuLoc is a perfect place." A trumpet fanfare led them forward to an arena where a tournament was being held for brave knights, with the winner acquiring the "privilege to go forth and rescue the lovely Princess Fiona from the fiery keep of the dragon" - Farquaad's ulterior motive was to marry Fiona after her rescue. When Shrek approached, Farquaad changed the tournament's objective: "The one who kills the ogre will be named champion." To the tune of "Bad Reputation" by Joan Jett, Shrek and the Donkey easily vanquished the armored knights, and Shrek was announced as the town's champion, who would now have the "honor of embarking on a great and noble quest." When Shrek demanded the removal of the Fairytale creatures from his swamp area, Farquaad made him a deal - "Go on this quest for me, and I'll give you your swamp back." The quest involved fighting a dragon and the rescue of Princess Fiona. Shrek and Donkey began their travel to the castle, to the tune of "I'm On My Way" performed by The Proclaimers, and as they approached they smelled brimstone.

The castle was perched on an active volcano, with a moat of hot molten lava, connected only by a rickety wooden bridge. After crossing, they decided to split up and look for stairs - leading to the princess in the highest room in the tallest tower. Shrek wore a helmet of armor of protection, covering his ugly face. The Donkey was the first to encounter a winged, yellow-eyed, monstrous fire-breathing dragon - and when Shrek came to the rescue, the dragon's tail tossed the ogre high into the air and he crashed into the Princess' chambers in the tower. To save himself, Donkey sweet-talked the dragon, complimenting the female creature on its dazzling white teeth and smile: "You're just reeking of feminine beauty." The dragon blew a heart-shaped smoke ring around the Donkey, indicating how it took a liking to him, and carried him by his tail to her chambers. In Fiona's room, she told Shrek that she was "awaiting a knight so bold as to rescue me." But she was upset at Shrek's unromantic, unorthodox hasty approach: "Should it not be a wonderful, romantic moment?...You should sweep me off my feet out yonder window and down a rope onto your valiant steed." She wanted him to recite a song, ballad, or sonnet for her, and then presented him with her handkerchief as a token of her gratitude for rescue - yet still complained that she wanted a traditional 'fairy-tale' rescue, although all the other knights had perished saving her: "You were meant to charge in, sword drawn, banner flying, that's what all the other knights did."

On their way out of the castle, Shrek came upon the Donkey, snared by an infatuated Dragon, and although he was able to extract his pal from the Dragon's clutches by swinging down on a chain and chandelier, this caused the creature to become irate. As all three of them raced for the exit, Shrek was able to have the Dragon pursue them in circles, causing the long chain around the creature's neck to trail behind. He then took a sword and stabbed it down in-between several overlapping chain links. When they crossed the collapsing and burning rickety bridge with the Dragon close behind, the chain (now stretched to its full length) jerked the Dragon's head back, and it was unable to reach them. It whimpered as the three safely escaped.

Fiona was thankful for being rescued - "I am eternally in your debt," she told Shrek, and she called the Donkey Shrek's "noble steed." When Shrek removed his helmet so that she could look upon the face of her rescuer and kiss him (to "share true love's first kiss"), her Highness was expecting "Prince Charming" and not an ogre: "You're not supposed to be an ogre." Shrek told her that he was sent on a rescue mission by groom-to-be Lord Farquaad, and that Farquaad was "the one who wants to marry you." She obstinately told Shrek: "You can tell Lord Farquaad that if he wants to rescue me properly, I'll be waiting for him right here." Claiming he was a "delivery boy" and not a messenger, Shrek refused to let her remain behind, and carried her over his shoulder as they made the return journey. Donkey and Shrek made 'short' jokes about Farquaad when she asked about him, and she protested traveling into the night and insisted that they set up camp ("I need to find somewhere to camp now!"). Shrek found her shelter in a cave where she remained throughout the night, as Shrek and Donkey observed constellations in the starry night sky. The ogre was planning to build a 10-foot wall around his swamp land when they returned, and he finally admitted he wanted to keep everyone out and be alone: "It's the world that seems to have a problem with me. People take one look at me and go 'Aah! Help! Run!' A big stupid ugly ogre. They judge me before they even know me. That's why I'm better off alone."

In Farquaad's bedroom, he lounged in his luxurious bedroom as he repeatedly asked the Magic Mirror to show him his "perfect" Princess Fiona. The next morning, Fiona awoke at sunrise and sang to a bluebird (a mocking parody of a duet in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves) - until her high-pitched voice caused the bird to explode. She cooked up the bird's three eggs for breakfast for the group, as a way to thank them. During their walk back, Fiona also burped following Shrek's belch, and Shrek remarked: "You're not exactly what I expected." She replied: "Maybe you shouldn't judge people before you get to know them." Monsieur Hood (voice of Vincent Cassel) and his Merry Men swooped down from the trees and entertained them with his theme song "Merry Men." Fiona was annoyed, knocked Monsieur Hood unconscious, and then used her martial arts skills, with an aerial The Matrix-style, to fell the others, while Shrek responded with amazement. Fiona extracted an arrow from Shrek's butt, after which Shrek bent a tree so she could cross a small brook. She took a spider's web from a tree branch and used it to catch bugs in a field - and wrapped it up as a snack for Shrek, and they each made balloon animals for each other from an inflated toad and snake.

When they arrived at a windmill near DuLoc, Fiona convinced them to stay for the evening, and Shrek barbecued weedrat rotisserie-style over a fire. Fiona and Shrek took a liking to each other, to the tune "You Belong to Me." When the sun was setting, she claimed she was afraid of the dark and frantically took shelter inside for the night. Donkey sensed their increasing attraction for each other: "Wake up and smell the pheromones," although Shrek (as an ogre) felt unworthy of expressing his love for the Princess. The Donkey went looking for Fiona in the dilapidated windmill, and discovered to his utter shock that she had turned into a female ogre (ogress). Due to a witch's spell cast on her when she was a little girl, she would remain that way until she found "true love's first kiss." Every night, she would turn into "this horrible, ugly beast" - until dawn's light. That was why she was placed in a castle tower for rescue by her "true love." She was distraught: "I'm a princess and this is not how a princess is meant to look." Donkey proposed that she had a lot in common with ogre Shrek, implying that she shouldn't marry Lord Farquaad.

Outside, as Shrek was practicing his confession of feelings for Fiona and walking toward the windmill with a sunflower in his hand, he overheard her say: "who could ever love a beast so hideous and ugly? 'Princess' and 'ugly' don't go together" - and thought she was referring to him. He turned, dropped the flower, and walked away dejected. Fiona felt her only chance to find happiness would be by marrying her 'true love' to break the spell. She had Donkey promise not to tell Shrek, and vowed to tell him herself, the next morning. But when morning came, and Shrek revealed that he had overheard every word she had said the previous night, they both misunderstood their real feelings for each other. There was no time to straighten things out - Shrek had already summoned Lord Farquaad to their camp, exchanging the Princess for a deed to his cleared-out swamp. She accepted Farquaad's request for her hand in marriage before the sun set: "Will you be the perfect bride for the perfect groom?", and the two returned to the castle at DuLoc, while Shrek was adamant about returning home alone to his swamp. In a montage to the sad tune "Hallelujah" (written by Leonard Cohen and sung by John Cale), Shrek was miserable as he arrived home, while Fiona was being fitted in a wedding gown, and Donkey saw that the love-sick Dragon had followed him back to the swamp. Both Shrek and Fiona ate their meals at an empty table.

After telling Shrek that Fiona's overheard talk about a hideous and ugly beast wasn't referring to him, Donkey convinced Shrek to quickly travel to DuLoc (before her marriage), riding on the back of Dragon, to tell her his feelings. They arrived just as the wedding ceremony commenced - Shrek burst in to interrupt, crying out: "I object" as he ran to the altar, where Farquaad was about to kiss Fiona to seal the forced marriage. Shrek asserted that Farquaad wasn't her true love - and that instead he had feelings of love for her. As the sun set, Fiona turned into an ogress -- and revealed her true identity to Shrek, Farquaad and the entire congregation. As he declared himself king with the binding marriage, Farquaad ordered his men to kill Shrek and imprison Fiona back in the tower for the rest of her life. The Dragon was summoned with a whistle, and it burst through the stained-glass window and devoured Farquaad with one gulp. Perched on the Dragon's head, the Donkey quipped: "Celebrity marriages. They never last, do they?"

Shrek and Fiona both declared their love for each other and kissed - true love's first kiss. Bathed in golden light, Fiona was freed from her life-long curse as it was broken, although she remained an ogress permanently - love's true form. A glorious explosion of light shattered the church's stained-glass windows. Unsure of herself when she stated: "I'm supposed to be beautiful," Shrek reassured her: "But you are beautiful." Donkey added: "I was hoping this would be a happy ending."

In the film's celebratory finale, Donkey and the other Fairytale characters sang and danced to Neil Diamond's song "I'm a Believer" (performed by Smash Mouth) -- as the couple were married in the swamp, and departed for their honeymoon in an awaiting Cinderella-style carriage - a giant onion. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty fought over their tossed wedding bouquet. The Gingerbread Man, looking like Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol (walking with one leg and a candy-cane cane), prayed: "God bless us, everyone." Cinderella and Monsieur Hood's Merry Men did the Macarena, while The Three Pigs performed a breakdance, and others did variations on the go-go, the frug, the Freddy, etc.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

With a production budget of $60 million, and box-office gross receipts of $268 million (domestic) and $484.4 million (worldwide).

In 2011, it was the 7th highest-grossing animated film of all time.

Shrek (2001) was the third highest-grossing film in the four-film Shrek series.

It was the third highest-grossing film of 2001, falling behind Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

With two Academy Awards nominations and one win: Best Animated Feature Film (win), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

It was the first animated film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film, a new category.

Loosely based upon a story by children’s author William Steig.

DreamWorks/PDI's subversive, revisionist fairy tale was a biting satire and irreverent spoof of classic Disney animated films, with fairy-tale in-jokes and lots of flatulence and subtle sexual humor. The film's climactic final revelation, from Princess to Creature, was an inverted "Beauty and the Beast" plot element.

(Mike Myers)

(Eddie Murphy)

Lord Farquaad
(John Lithgow)

Gingerbread Man
(Conrad Vernon)

Princess Fiona
(Cameron Diaz)

Magic Mirror
(Chris Miller)

Monsieur Hood
(Vincent Cassel)

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