Theatrical release poster
by William Steig
|Music by||Harry Gregson-Williams
|Editing by||Sim Evan-Jones|
|Studio||Pacific Data Images
|Distributed by||DreamWorks Pictures|
|Running time||90 minutes|
Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated fantasy-comedy film produced by PDI/DreamWorks, released by DreamWorks Pictures, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, featuring the voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow. It is loosely based on William Steig's 1990 fairy tale picture book Shrek!, and somewhat serves as a parody film, targeting other films adapted from various children’s fantasies (mainly animated Disney films). The film made notable use of popular music; the soundtrack includes music by Smash Mouth, Eels, Joan Jett, The Proclaimers, Jason Wade, Baha Men, and John Cale (covering Leonard Cohen).
The rights to the books were originally bought by Steven Spielberg in 1991, before the founding of DreamWorks, when he thought about making a traditionally animated film based on the book. However, John H. Williams convinced him to bring the film to DreamWorks in 1994, the time the studio was founded, and the film was put quickly into active development by Jeffrey Katzenberg after the rights were bought by the studio in 1995. Shrek originally cast Chris Farley to do the voice for the title character, recording about 80%–90% of his dialog. But since Farley died in 1997 before he could finish, Mike Myers was put in to work for the character, who after his first recording decided to record his voice in a Scottish accent. The film was also originally planned to be motion-captured, but after poor results, the studio decided to get PDI to help Shrek get its final computer-animated look.
Earning $484.4 million at the worldwide box office, the film was a critical and commercial success. Shrek also received promotion from food chains such as Baskin-Robbins (promoting the film's DVD release) and Burger King. It was acclaimed as an animated film worthy of adult interest, with many adult-oriented jokes and themes but a simple enough plot and humour to appeal to children. Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also nominated for six BAFTAs, including the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Eddie Murphy for his voice-over performance as Donkey, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film's main (and title) character was awarded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May 2010.
Shrek established DreamWorks Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar in the field of feature film animation, particularly in computer animation. The film's success prompted DreamWorks to create three sequels, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After, two holiday specials, Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless, and a spin-off film, Puss in Boots. A fifth film, planned as the last of the series, was cancelled in 2009 with the announcement that the fourth film would conclude the series. The film's success also inspired other merchandise, such as video games, a stage musical and even a comic book by Dark Horse Comics.
Shrek (Mike Myers), a grouchy, terrifying green ogre that has always enjoyed living in peaceful solitude in his swamp, finds his life disrupted when thousands of various fairytale characters are exiled into his swamp by order of the obsessive, evil, fairy-tale hating Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Shrek announces to the fairytale creatures that he will go to see Farquaad to move them out of his swamp and back to where they came from. Shrek brings along a talking Donkey (Eddie Murphy). Meanwhile, Farquaad tortures the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon) into revealing the whereabouts of the remaining fairytale creatures until his guards rush in with an object Farquaad has been searching for: the Magic Mirror. The Mirror tells Farquaad that he can only become a real king by marrying a princess, completely disregarding his original question about whether his kingdom was the fairest of them all. The Mirror gives him three princesses to choose from, in a parody of The Dating Game: Cinderella, Snow White, and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Farquaad chooses Fiona and silences the Mirror before he can mention "the little thing that happens at night", which is later revealed to be a curse. Shrek and Donkey arrive at Farquaad's palace in Duloc, where they find themselves in the midst of a tournament. The winner will have the "privilege" of attempting to rescue Fiona from a castle surrounded by lava and protected by a fire-breathing dragon so that Farquaad may marry her. Shrek, with some help from Donkey, easily defeats the other knights in a fashion that resembles a wrestling match and Farquaad agrees to remove the fairytale creatures from the swamp if Shrek rescues Fiona.
Shrek and Donkey travel to the castle and split up to find Fiona. Donkey encounters the dragon and sweet-talks the beast to save himself before discovering that the dragon is female. Dragon takes a liking to Donkey and carries him to her chambers. When Shrek finds Fiona, she is appalled at his lack of romanticism. As they are leaving, Shrek manages to save Donkey, caught in Dragon's tender clutches, and causing her to become irate, chasing Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey out of the castle. At first, Fiona is thrilled to be rescued but quickly becomes disappointed when Shrek takes his helmet off and she realizes that he is an ogre. When the three make their return journey to Farquaad's palace, Fiona urges Shrek and Donkey to camp out for the night and decides to sleep in a cave. Shrek and Donkey, meanwhile, stay awake and watch the stars while Shrek tells stories about great ogres and informs Donkey that he plans to build a 10-foot wall around his swamp when he returns. When Donkey persistently asks Shrek why he is doing this, Shrek sadly confesses to him that everyone judges him before they know him; therefore, he feels he is better off alone, despite Donkey's admittance that he did not immediately judge him when they first met.
The next day, Shrek and Fiona find they have more in common with each other along the way, and fall in love. Later, the trio is almost to Duloc, and that night Fiona takes shelter in a nearby abandoned windmill. When Donkey hears strange noises coming from the windmill, he finds that Fiona has turned into an ogress. Fiona explains she was cursed as a child and turns into an ogress every night, which is why she was locked away in the castle, and that only a kiss from her true love will return her to her "love's true form". Shrek, about to confess his feelings for Fiona and attempts give her a sunflower, overhears part of their conversation, and is heartbroken as he misinterprets her disgust at her transformation into an "ugly beast" as being disgusted with him. Fiona makes Donkey promise not to tell Shrek about the spell, vowing to do it herself, but when the next morning comes, Shrek has brought Lord Farquaad to Fiona. The couple return to Duloc, while a hurt Shrek leaves his friendship with Donkey, out of anger and returns to his now-vacated swamp, remembering what Fiona "said" about him.
Despite his privacy, Shrek find that he is miserable and misses Fiona. Furious at Shrek for what he did, Donkey comes to the swamp where Shrek reveals that he overheard Donkey and Fiona's conversation. Donkey keeps his promise to Fiona and tells Shrek that she was talking about someone else. He then accepts Shrek's apology and tells him that Fiona will be getting married shortly, urging Shrek into action to gain Fiona's true love. They are able to travel to Duloc quickly, thanks to Dragon, who had escaped her confines and followed Donkey.
Shrek interrupts the wedding before Farquaad can kiss Fiona, and tells Fiona that Farquaad is not her true love, but only marrying her to become king. The sun set, which causes Fiona to turn into an ogress in front of everyone in the church, causes Shrek to fully understand what he overheard at the windmill. Farquaad, disgusted over the change, orders Shrek killed and Fiona imprisoned, but Shrek whistles for Dragon. Dragon bursts in along with Donkey, and devours Farquaad. Shrek and Fiona admit their love for each other and share a kiss; Fiona is bathed in light as her curse is broken, but is surprised to find that she has remained an ogress, as she thought she was supposed to become beautiful, to which Shrek replies that she is beautiful. The two of them get married in the swamp and depart on their honeymoon while the rest celebrate by singing "I'm a Believer".
- Mike Myers as Shrek
- Eddie Murphy as Donkey
- Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona
- John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad
- Vincent Cassel as Monsieur Hood (a French rendition of Robin Hood)
- Conrad Vernon as Gingerbread Man
- Chris Miller as Geppetto/ Magic Mirror
- Cody Cameron as Pinocchio / The Three Little Pigs
- Simon J. Smith as Three Blind Mice
- Christopher Knights as Three Blind Mice and Thelonius
- Aron Warner as Big Bad Wolf
- Jim Cummings as Captain of the Guards
- Kathleen Freeman as Old Woman (Donkey's ex-owner)
- Andrew Adamson as Duloc Mascot (a man dressed in a suit that looks like Lord Farquaad)
- Bobby Block, Elisa Gabrielli (uncredited) and Eddie Murphy (uncredited) as Three Bears
- Michael Galasso as Peter Pan
- Elisa Gabrielli as additional voices
At the time DreamWorks was founded, producer John H. Williams got hold of the book from his children, and when he brought it to DreamWorks, it caught Jeffrey Katzenberg's attention and the studio decided to make it into a movie. After buying the rights to the film, Katzenberg quickly put the film in active development in November 1995. Steven Spielberg had thought about making a traditionally animated film of the book before, when he bought the rights to the book in 1991, before the founding of DreamWorks, where Bill Murray would play Shrek and Steve Martin would play Donkey. In the beginning of production, co-director Andrew Adamson refused to be intimidated by Katzenberg, and had an argument with him how much should the film appeal to adults. Katzenberg wanted both audiences, but he found some of Adamson's ideas about adding sexual jokes and Guns N' Roses music to the soundtrack a bit too outrageous. Andrew Adamson and Kelly Asbury joined in 1997 to co-direct the film. However, Asbury left a year later for work on the 2002 film Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and was replaced with story artist Vicky Jenson. Both Adamson and Jenson decided to work on the film in half, so the crew could at least know who to go to with specific detail questions about the film's sequences; "We both ended up doing a lot of everything", Adamson said. "We're both kinda control freaks, and we both wanted to do everything."
Some early sketches of Shrek's house were done in 1996 through 1997 using Photoshop, with the sketches showing Shrek first living in a garbage dump near a human village called Wart Creek. It was also thought one time that he lived with his parents and kept rotting fish in his bedroom. Donkey was modeled after Pericles (born 1994; also known as Perry), a real miniature donkey from Barron Park, Palo Alto, California. Raman Hui, supervising animator of Shrek, stated that Fiona "wasn't based on any real person." and he did many different sketches for Princess Fiona and had done over 100 sculptures of Fiona before the directors picked the final design. In early development, the Art Directors visited Hearst Castle, Stratford upon Avon and Dordogne for inspiration. Art Director Douglas Rogers visited a magnolia plantation in Charleston, South Carolina for inspiration for Shrek's swamp. Planned characters not used in the film include Goldilocks and Sleeping Beauty.
Chris Farley was planned to do the voice for Shrek which he recorded 80 to 90% (or 95% according to Farley's brother Tom) of the dialogue for the character, but died before completing the project. DreamWorks then re-cast the voice role to Mike Myers, who insisted on a complete script rewrite, to leave no traces of Farley's version of Shrek. After Myers had completed providing the voice for the character, when the film was well into production, he asked to re-record all of his lines in a Scottish accent similar to the one his mother had used when she told him bedtime stories and also used for his roles in other films such as, So I Married an Axe Murderer & Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. After hearing the alternative, Katzenberg agreed to redo scenes in the film, saying, "It was so good we took $4m worth of animation out and did it again." Because of Myers voicing the character, more ideas began to come; There were clearer story points, fresher gags and comedy bits. Myers said: "I got a letter from Spielberg thanking me so much for caring about the character... And he said the Scottish accent had improved the movie." Another person planned to voice a character in the film was Janeane Garofalo, who was set to star alongside Farley as Princess Fiona. However, she was fired from the project with little explanation. Years later, Garofalo stated "I was never told why [I was fired]. I assume because I sound like a man sometimes? I don't know why. Nobody told me... But, you know, the movie didn't do anything, so who cares?"
Shrek was originally set up to be a live-action/CG animation hybrid with background plate miniature sets and the main characters composited into the scene as motion-captured computer graphics, using an ExpertVision Hires Falcon 10 camera system to capture and apply realistic human movement to the characters. A sizable crew was hired to run a test, and after a year and a half of R & D, the test was finally screened in May 1997. The results were not satisfactory, with Katzenberg stating, "It looked terrible, it didn't work, it wasn't funny, and we didn't like it." The studio then turned to its production partners at PDI, who began production with the studio in 1998 and helped Shrek to get its final, computer-animated look. At this time, Antz was still in production by the studio and Effects Supervisor Ken Bielenberg was asked by Aron Warner "to start development for Shrek." Similar to previous PDI films, PDI used its own proprietary software (like its own Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. However, for some elements it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation software that was in the market. This is particularly true with Maya, which PDI used for most of its dynamic cloth animation and for the hair of Fiona and Farquaad.
“We did a lot of work on character and set-up, and then kept changing the set up while we were doing the animation,” Hui noted. “In Antz, we had a facial system that gave us all the facial muscles under the skin. In Shrek, we applied that to whole body. So if you pay attention to Shrek when he talks, you see that when he opens his jaw, he forms a double chin, because we have the fat and the muscles underneath. That kind of detail took us a long time to get right." One of the most difficult parts of creating the film was making Donkey's fur flow smoothly so that it didn't look like a Chia Pet's fur. This fell into the hands of the surfacing animators who used flow controls within a complex shader to provide the fur with many attributes (ability to change directions, lie flat, swirl, etc.). It was then the job of the visual effects group, lead by Ken Bielenberg, to make the fur react to environment conditions. Once the technology was mastered, it was able to be applied to many aspects of the Shrek movie including grass, moss, beards, eyebrows, and even threads on Shrek's tunic. Making Human hair realistic was different from Donkey's fur. It required a separate rendering system and a lot of attention from the lighting and visual effects teams.
Aron Warner said that the creators "envisioned a magical environment that you could immerse yourself into." Shrek includes 36 separate in-film locations to make the world of the film, which DreamWorks claimed was more than any previous computer animated feature before. In-film locations were finalized and as demonstrated by past DreamWorks animated movies, color and mood was of the utmost importance.
As the film was about to be completed, Katzenberg suggested to the filmmakers to redo the film's ending in order to "go out with a big laugh"; Instead of ending film with just a storybook closing over Shrek and Fiona as they ride off into the sunset, they decided to add a song "I'm a Believer" by Smash Mouth and show all the fairytale creatures in the film.
Shrek is the third DreamWorks animated film (and the only film in the Shrek series) to have Harry Gregson-Williams team up with John Powell to composes the score (after Antz (1998) and Chicken Run (2000)).
The film references in many places classic movies, especially those by Disney:
- When Tinker Bell falls on Donkey and he says "I can fly" and people around including the three little pigs say "He can fly, he can fly", this is a reference to Disney's Peter Pan. This scene is also a reference to another Disney film named Dumbo, where Donkey says, while flying, "You might have seen a house fly, maybe even a super fly, but I bet you ain't never seen a Donkey fly" (Super Fly being a well-known Blaxploitation film from the early '70s).
- When Shrek crosses the bridge to the Castle and says, "That'll do, Donkey, that´ll do," this is a reference to the movie Babe.
- The scene where Fiona is singing to the blue bird is a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
- The scene where Princess Fiona is fighting the Merry Men is a lengthy reference to The Matrix.
- The transformation scene at the end of the film strongly references to Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
- At the end of the film, the Gingerbread Man at the end with a crutch (and one leg) says "God bless us, everyone" which is a reference to Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol.
- The scene where the magic mirror gives Farrquaad three princess to chose from spoofs The Dating Game.
In 2000, IMAX released CyberWorld onto its branded large-screen theaters. It was a compilation film that featured stereoscopic conversions of various animated shorts and sequences, including the bar sequence in Antz. DreamWorks was so impressed by the technology used for the sequence's "stereoscopic translation", that the studio and IMAX decided to plan a big-screen 3D version of Shrek. The film would have been re-released during the Christmas season of 2001, or the following summer, after its conventional 2D release. The re-release would have also included new sequences and an alternate ending. Plans for this was dropped due to "creative changes" instituted by DreamWorks and resulted in a loss of $1.18 million, down from IMAX's profit of $3.24 million.
Radio Disney was told not to allow any ads for the film to air on the station, stating, "Due to recent initiatives with The Walt Disney Company, we are being asked not to align ourselves promotionally with this new release Shrek. Stations may accept spot dollars only in individual markets."
On May 7, 2001, Burger King began promotions for the film, giving out a selection of nine exclusive Candy Caddies based on the Shrek characters, in Big Kids Meal and Kids Meal orders. Ice cream chain Baskin-Robbins also ran an 8-week promotion of the film, selling products such as Shrek's Hot Sludge Sundae, a combination of Oreo Cookies 'n Cream ice cream, hot fudge, crushed chocolate cookies, whipped cream and squiggly gummy worms, and Shrek Freeze Frame Cake, featuring an image of Shrek and Donkey framed by sunflowers. This was to support the film's DVD/VHS release.
The film was released on VHS and DVD on November 2, 2001. Both releases included Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party!, a 3-minute musical short film, that takes up right after the Shrek's ending, with film's characters performing a medley of modern pop songs.
Shrek was released to video on Friday, the same day that Pixar's Monsters, Inc. hit theaters. Since videos were traditionally released on Tuesdays, Disney's executives didn't received that well, saying "that the move seemed like an underhanded attempt to siphon off some of their film's steam". DreamWorks responded that "it simply shifted the release to a Friday to make it more of an event and predicted that it and other studios would do so more frequently with important films." Monsters, Inc. earned that weekend more than $62 million, breaking the record for an animated film, while the Shrek's video release made more than $100 million, and eventually became the biggest selling DVD of all time with over 5.5 million sales.
Shrek was very well-received, with critics praising Shrek as an animated film worthy of adult interest, with many adult-oriented jokes and themes but a simple enough plot and humor to appeal to children. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 176 reviews, with an average score of 7.7/10. The critical consensus is: While simultaneously embracing and subverting fairy tales, the irreverent Shrek also manages to tweak Disney's nose, provide a moral message to children, and offer viewers a funny, fast-paced ride.
Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it four stars out of a possible four and describing it as "jolly and wicked, filled with sly in-jokes and yet somehow possessing a heart." USA Today's Susan Wloszczyna praised Eddie Murphy's performance, stating it "gives the comic performance of his career, aided by sensational digital artistry, as he brays for the slightly neurotic motormouth." Richard Schickel also enjoyed Murphy's role, stating, "No one has ever made a funnier jackass of himself than Murphy."
Peter Rainer of New York magazine liked the script, also stating that "The animation, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, is often on the same wriggly, giggly level as the script, although the more "human" characters, such as Princess Fiona and Lord Farquaad, are less interesting than the animals and creatures -- a common pitfall in animated films of all types."
William Steig, the author of the original book, and his wife Jeanne Steig also enjoyed the film, stating "We all went sort of expecting to hate it, thinking, 'What has Hollywood done to it?' But we loved it. We were afraid it would be too sickeningly cute and, instead, Bill just thought they did a wonderful, witty job of it."
Shrek opened in more than 3,587 movie theaters on its 2001 release, eleven of them showing them digitally, made possible by the THX Division of Lucasfilm. This was the first time that DreamWorks had shown one of its films digitally. The film earned $11,573,015 on its first day and $42,347,760 on its opening weekend, topping the box office for the weekend and averaging $11,805 from 3,587 theaters. In its second weekend, due to the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, the film gained 0.3 percent to $42,481,425 and $55,215,620 over the four-day weekend, resulting in an overall 30 percent gain. Despite this, the film finished in second place behind Pearl Harbor and had an average of $15,240 from expanding to 3,623 sites. In its third weekend, the film retreated 34 percent to $28,172,869 for a $7,695 average from expanding to 3,661 theaters. The film closed on December 6, 2001, after grossing $267,665,011 domestically, along with $216,744,207 overseas, for a worldwide total of $484,409,218. Produced on a $60 million budget, the film was a huge box office smash and is the fourth highest-grossing film of 2001 behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, and Monsters, Inc..
Shrek became the highest-grossing animated film ever to be released in Australia, passing the mark set by The Lion King in 1994. In the United Kingdom, Shrek regained the top spot at the British box office after being beaten out the previous week by Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, earning a $20.3 million since its opening in the UK.
At the 74th Academy Awards, Shrek won the first ever Academy Award For Best Animated Feature, beating Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Prince Charming? So last millennium. This decade, fairy-tale fans — and Princess Fiona — fell for a fat and flatulent Ogre. Now, that's progress."
Shrek was also nominated for 6 BAFTA Award, including the BAFTA Award for Best Film. Eddie Murphy became the first actor to ever receive a BAFTA nomination for a voice-over performance. The film was also nominated for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Film Music, and won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Shrek was nominated for a dozen Annie Awards from ASIFA-Hollywood, and won eight Annies including Best Animated Feature and Outstanding Individual Achievement for Directing in an Animated Feature Production.
In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten top Ten"; the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community Shrek was acknowledged as the eighth best film in the animated genre, and the only non-Disney·Pixar film in the Top 10. It is also third on Bravo's 100 funniest films. Shrek was also ranked second in a Channel 4 poll of the "100 Greatest Family Films", losing out on the top spot to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. In 2005, Shrek came sixth in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Cartoons poll behind The Simpsons, Tom and Jerry, South Park, Toy Story and Family Guy. In November 2009, the character, Lord Farquaad, was listed #14 in IGN UK's "Top 15 Fantasy Villains".
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:
- Shrek - Nominated Hero
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- I'm a Believer - Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - #8 Animated film
Previous films and TV shows, such as Fractured Fairy Tales and The Princess Bride, have parodied the traditional fairy tale. However, Shrek itself has noticeably influenced the current generation of mainstream animated films. Particularly after Shrek 2, animated films began to incorporate more pop culture references and end-film musical numbers. Such elements can be seen in films like Ice Age: The Meltdown, Robots, and Chicken Little. It also inspired a number of computer animated films which also spoofed fairy tales, or other related story genres, often including adult-oriented humor, most of which were not nearly as successful as Shrek, such as Happily N'Ever After, Igor, and Hoodwinked!. Shrek was also occasionally referenced In the 2007 post apocalyptic horror film I Am Legend.
- Shrek (2001)
- Shrek: Hassle at the Castle (2002)
- Shrek: Extra Large (2002)
- Shrek: Super Party (2002)
- Shrek SuperSlam (2005)
Shrek was also included as a bonus unlockable character in the video game Tony Hawk's Underground 2. (2004)
A musical version, based on the film, with music by Jeanine Tesori and a book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire, opened on Broadway on December 14, 2008, and closed January 3, 2010, running for a total of 441 performances. It starred Brian d'Arcy James in the title role, Sutton Foster as Princess Fiona, Christopher Sieber as Lord Farquaad, Daniel Breaker as Donkey, and John Tartaglia as Pinocchio. A North American Tour opened July 25, 2010, in Chicago. A London production opened in the West End on June 7, 2011.
Sequels and spin-offs
Shrek had three sequels which included Shrek 2, Shrek the Third and Shrek Forever After. Although Shrek 2 received similar acclaim from critics, the last two movies did not receive as much critical acclaim. They were however still box office hits. There were also two holiday specials called Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless, a spin-off called Puss in Boots (a prequel to the Shrek series, exploring Puss's origin story and his life prior to meeting Shrek and Donkey) and several shorts. A fifth feature film was also planned for release, but was later cancelled in 2009, after it was decided that Shrek Forever After (originally titled Shrek Goes Fourth) was to be the last film in the series.
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Shrek|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Shrek|
- Official website
- Shrek at the Internet Movie Database
- Shrek at Rotten Tomatoes
- Shrek at Metacritic
- Shrek at Box Office Mojo
- Tom Hester - Shrek Character Designer