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Thursday, May 20, 2004 01:57 am

Movie review

Shrek 2

Shrek sequel isn't equal to orginal

Witty and innovative, Shrek put the DreamWorks animation division on the map in 2001. The film's breezy pace, lively voice characterizations by A-list movie stars, and clever script spelled box-office success. Producing a sequel was a no-brainer.

Shrek 2 has a tough act to follow, and -- no surprise here -- it's a bit of a disappointment. Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy are all back on board as the ogre Shrek, Princess Fiona, and Donkey, respectively. Though they bring the same passion and fun to the sequel, they're hobbled by a rather simplistic script.

The basics: Fiona is called home by her father, King Harold (John Cleese), so that he and his wife, Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), might meet their new son-in-law, thinking he is the one-and-only Prince Charming (Rupert Everett). They're shocked when Fiona shows up with an ogre and donkey in tow. So begins Shrek's quest for magic potions and a journey through the countryside of Far, Far Away.

The unstated agenda of Shrek was to poke fun at the Walt Disney Company and its boss, Michael Eisner -- a task the filmmakers relished. In Shrek 2, King Harold's realm is obviously inspired by Hollywood, but the film botches the opportunity to poke fun at Tinseltown. As a result, the sharp-edged wit of the original is missing from the sequel.

However, the addition of Puss-in-Boots, a mercenary feline sent to kill Shrek who eventually becomes his ally, proves a delight. As voiced by Antonio Banderas, this fierce kitty oozes menace and charm in equal measure and gives Donkey a run for his money as favorite sidekick. You haven't lived until you've heard Banderas and Murphy belt out Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca."


What other critics are saying. . .

Breakin' All the Rules [PG-13] Jamie Foxx stars as a man who writes a best-selling "how-to" book about breaking up after his fiancee dumps him. "The rules of good screenwriting are mostly broken, though Jamie Foxx's smash-and-grab charisma remains intact." (Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly) Parkway Pointe

Ella Enchanted [PG] Ella is a young woman who was given the "gift" of obedience by a fairy named Lucinda. After her mother dies, Ella is cared for by her thoughtless, greedy father who remarries a loathsome woman. A variation on the Cinderella theme based on Gail Carson Levine's award-winning novel. "Though slightly uneven, this film version of Ella Enchanted never wavers from the magic of author Gail Carson Levine's words for girls: The demands of obedience should not be used to chain their souls." (Michael Booth, The Denver Post)White Oaks

Home on the Range [PG] When an eviction notice is posted on the Patch of Heaven dairy farm, the cows decide to raise money by collecting a bounty on a notorious yodeling cattle rustler. "Witty and self-assured, Home on the Range ranks as one of Disney's better efforts." (Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution) Parkway Pointe

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 [R] The Bride continues her campaign of revenge against her ex-boss, Bill, and his associates. "What Quentin Tarantino started with a wham he finishes with a bang in Kill Bill Vol. 2." (Todd McCarthy, Variety) Parkway Pointe

The Ladykillers [R] A professor assembles a group of thieves for a casino heist. After they hole up in a sweet old woman's home, they find that she's the biggest threat to their plans. Tom Hanks stars. "The Coens' remake of a comedy classic flounders amid extreme caricatures and stained humor. (Kirk Honeycutt, Hollywood Reporter) Parkway Pointe

Laws of Attraction [PG-13] Two New York City divorce lawyers (Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan) fall in love -- after waking up married to one another."Brosnan is devilishly charming; Moore is equally appealing. These two film veterans belong on the screen together just as their characters belong in each other's arms." (Chuck Koplinski, Illinois Times) Parkway Pointe

Man on Fire [R]A former Marine (Denzel Washington) swears vengeance on those who committed an unspeakable act against the family he was hired to protect. "Audiences need to be aware that the violence is intense, but also very creative." (Marc Sigoloff, Illinois Times) Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

Mean Girls [PG-13]Cady Heron is a hit with The Plastics, the A-list girl clique at her new school, until she makes the mistake of falling for the ex-boyfriend of alpha Plastic. "You gotta love a film that poses the vital question: 'Is butter a carb?' " (Gregory Weinkauf, New Times newspapers) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

New York Minute [PG] On a crazy day in the Big Apple, Jane and wild and crazy Roxy Ryan (Mary-Kate Olsen) comes to the aid of her prim and proper twin sister, Jane (Ashley Olsen). "Mary-Kate and Ashley sprint through Manhattan on the run from a truant officer and a limo driver in this crisp and professional teenage caper comedy." (A. O. Scott, New York Times) Parkway Pointe, ShowPlace East

The Punisher [R] Based on a bad-ass Marvel Comics hero, FBI agent Frank Castle takes it upon himself to rid America of crime after his wife and family are killed. "Laudably exposes the dark core of the human heart." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) White Oaks

13 Going on 30 [PG-13] A 13-year-old girl plays a game on her 13th birthday and wakes up the next day as a 30-year-old woman (Jennifer Garner). "Jennifer Garner makes the transition from cult-fave TV action icon to full-fledged, ultra-charismatic feature lead in 13 Going on 30." (Joe Leydon, Variety) Parkway Pointe

Troy [R] An adaption of Homer's epic about the siege of Troy by the Greeks. Brad Pitt stars as Achilles. Eric Bana is Hector. Orlando Bloom is Paris. "This is The Iliad as a WWE SmackDown: violent fights, snappy insults and a connoisseur's idolatry of beautiful brawn." (Richard Corliss, Time); "Troy, besides being tremendously entertaining, is the best crib-sheet guide to Homer ever." (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Van Helsing [PG-13] Legendary 19th century monster hunter Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) heads to Eastern Europe to do battle with Count Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein. "A noisy, 19th-century fantasy adventure that goes nowhere." (Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer) ShowPlace West, ShowPlace East

Walking Tall [PG-13] A former member of U.S. Army Special Forces (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) returns to his small Washington State home to revive his family's lumber business. The town's overrun with corruption; the ex-soldier fixes things with a two-by-four. "The new Walking Tall is essentially a lighter, cliff-note version of the original film." (Stefan Halley, White Oaks

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