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Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
Written by
Based onShrek!
by William Steig
Music by
Edited bySim Evan-Jones
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Release date
Running time
90 minutes[5]
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[5]
Box office$484.4 million[5]

Shrek is a 2001 American computer-animated comedy film loosely based on the 1990 fairy tale picture book of the same name by William Steig. Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson in their directorial debuts, it stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow as the voices of the lead characters. The film parodies other fairy tale adaptations, primarily aimed at animated Disney films.[6] In the story, an ogre called Shrek (Myers) finds his swamp overrun by fairy tale creatures who have been banished by the corrupt Lord Farquaad (Lithgow) aspiring to be king. Shrek makes a deal with Farquaad to regain control of his swamp in return for rescuing Princess Fiona (Diaz), whom Farquaad intends to marry. With the help of Donkey (Murphy), Shrek embarks on his quest but soon falls in love with the princess, who is hiding a secret that will change his life forever.

The rights to Steig's book were purchased by Steven Spielberg in 1991. He originally planned to produce a traditionally-animated film based on the book, but John H. Williams convinced him to bring the film to the newly-founded DreamWorks in 1994. Jeffrey Katzenberg began active development of the film in 1995 immediately following the studio's purchase of the rights from Spielberg. Chris Farley was originally cast as the voice for the title character, recording nearly all of the required dialogue. After Farley died in 1997 before the work was finished, Mike Myers stepped in to voice the character, which was changed to a Scottish accent in the process. The film was intended to be motion-captured, but after poor results, the studio decided to hire Pacific Data Images to complete the final computer animation.

Shrek premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or,[7] making it the first animated film since Disney's Peter Pan (1953) to be chosen to do so.[8] It was widely praised as an animated film that featured adult-oriented humor and themes, while catering to children at the same time. The film was theatrically released in the United States on May 18, 2001, and grossed $484.4 million worldwide against a production budget of $60 million. Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. It earned six award nominations from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), ultimately winning Best Adapted Screenplay. The film's success helped establish DreamWorks Animation as a prime competitor to Pixar in feature film computer animation, and three sequels were released—Shrek 2 (2004), Shrek the Third (2007), and Shrek Forever After (2010)—along with two holiday specials, a spin-off film, and a stage musical that kickstarted the Shrek franchise.[9] Although plans for a fifth film were canceled prior to the fourth film's release,[10] the project was revived in 2016, though has since stalled, with production and a potential release date getting pushed back.[11][12]

In 2020, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant", making it the first DreamWorks Animation film and the first animated feature not produced or distributed by Disney to earn that honor.[13][14]


Shrek is an anti-social and highly-territorial green ogre who loves the solitude of his swamp. His life is interrupted after the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad of Duloc exiles multiple fairy-tale creatures to Shrek's swamp. Angered by the intrusion, he decides to pay Farquaad a visit and demand they be moved elsewhere. He reluctantly allows the talkative Donkey, who was exiled as well, to tag along and guide him to Duloc.

Meanwhile, Farquaad is presented with Snow White's Magic Mirror, who tells him that in order to truly become a king, he must marry a princess. Farquaad chooses Princess Fiona, who is imprisoned in a castle tower guarded by a female dragon. Unwilling to perform the task himself, he organizes a tournament, in which the winner will receive the "privilege" of rescuing Fiona. Shrek and Donkey arrive during the tournament; disgusted by the sight of the ogre, Farquaad changes his mind and announces that whichever knight kills Shrek will be declared the winner. Shrek and Donkey manage to defeat the oncoming knights, and Farquaad proclaims them champions; he negotiates with Shrek to have the fairy-tale creatures relocated if he rescues Fiona.

Shrek and Donkey travel to the castle and are attacked by Dragon, who corners Donkey. In desperation, he sweet-talks her and she falls in love with him. Meanwhile, Shrek locates Fiona, who is appalled at his lack of romanticism. They flee the castle after rescuing Donkey, but when Shrek removes his helmet and reveals that he is an ogre, Fiona refuses to go to Duloc unless Farquaad himself arrives, so Shrek simply carries her against her will. That night, after setting up camp, Fiona goes off alone and Shrek confides with Donkey about his frustration with being feared and rejected by others because of his appearance. Fiona overhears and decides to be kind to Shrek. The next day, they encounter Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, and Fiona dispatches them easily with martial arts when they attack. Shrek is impressed with Fiona, and they begin to fall in love.

When the trio nears Duloc, Fiona takes shelter in a windmill for the evening. Donkey hears strange noises from within and investigates, discovering that Fiona has transformed into an ogress. She explains she has been cursed since childhood, forced to transform every night after sunset, and only changing back at sunrise. She tells Donkey that only "true love's kiss" will break the spell and change her to "love's true form". Meanwhile, Shrek is about to confess his feelings to Fiona, when he overhears the conversation as she is calling herself an "ugly beast". Believing that Fiona is talking about him, Shrek angrily leaves and returns the next morning with Lord Farquaad. Confused and hurt by Shrek's abrupt hostility towards her, Fiona accepts Farquaad's marriage proposal and requests they be married before nightfall. Shrek abandons Donkey and returns to his now-vacated swamp.

Angered, Donkey arrives at the swamp and confronts a still-upset Shrek. During their quarrel, Donkey explains that the "ugly beast" Fiona was referring to was someone else, and the two reconcile. Donkey urges Shrek to express his feelings for Fiona before she marries, and the two quickly travel to Duloc by riding Dragon, whom Donkey is now in a relationship with.

Shrek interrupts the wedding just before the ceremony completes, and tells Fiona that Farquaad is only marrying her to become king. The sun sets as Fiona transforms into an ogress in front of everyone, causing a surprised Shrek to understand what he overheard. Outraged, Farquaad orders Shrek executed and Fiona detained. Guided by Donkey, Dragon bursts in and devours Farquaad alive. Shrek and Fiona profess their love and share a kiss. Fiona assumes "love's true form" as the curse predicted, and remains an ogress permanently. No longer believing she is beautiful, Fiona is consoled by Shrek, who tells her she always has been. They get married in the swamp surrounded by other fairy-tale creatures, and leave on their honeymoon.

Voice cast



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 film.[22] Recounting the inspiration of making the film, Williams said:

Every development deal starts with a pitch and my pitch came from my then kindergartner, in collaboration with his pre-school brother. Upon our second reading of Shrek, the kindergartner started quoting large segments of the book pretending he could read them. Even as an adult, I thought Shrek was outrageous, irreverent, iconoclastic, gross, and just a lot of fun. He was a great movie character in search of a movie.[23]

After buying the rights to the film, Katzenberg quickly put it in active development in November 1995.[24][25] Steven Spielberg had thought about making a traditionally animated film adaption 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.[26] 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 deemed some of Adamson's ideas, such as adding sexual jokes and Guns N' Roses music to the soundtrack, to be too outrageous.[27][28] 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 whom 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."[29]

Some early sketches of Shrek's house were done between 1996 and 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.[30] Donkey was modeled after Pericles (born 1994; also known as Perry), a real miniature donkey from Barron Park in Palo Alto, California.[31] Raman Hui, supervising animator of Shrek, stated that Fiona "wasn't based on any real person" and he did many different sketches for her. He had done over 100 sculptures of Fiona before the directors chose the final design.[32] 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 of Shrek's swamp.[33][34] Planned characters not used in the film include Goldilocks and Sleeping Beauty.[35]

During production, animators who failed while working on other projects, such as The Prince of Egypt, were often sent to work on Shrek. The reassignment was known as being "Shreked" and being sent to "the Gulag".[36][37]


Nicolas Cage was initially offered the role of Shrek but he turned it down because he did not want to look like an ogre. In 2013, Cage explained furthermore: "When you're drawn, in a way it says more about how children are going to see you than anything else, and I so care about that."[38]

Mike Myers was re-cast as Shrek after Chris Farley's death.

Chris Farley was initially hired to voice Shrek, and he had recorded nearly all of the dialogue for the character, but died before completing the project.[39] A story reel featuring a sample of Farley's recorded dialogue was leaked to the public in August 2015.[40] 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.[39] According to Myers, he wanted to voice the character "for two reasons: I wanted the opportunity to work with Jeffrey Katzenberg; and [the book is] a great story about accepting yourself for who you are."[23]

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 with a Scottish accent, similar to that his mother used when she told him bedtime stories and also used for his roles in other films, such as So I Married an Axe Murderer and Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.[39] According to the DVD commentary, he had also tried using country and Canadian accents.[41] 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."[42] A point Myers disputes, saying "it didn't cost the studio 'millions of dollars'," as rumored. "What it meant is instead of me going in for ten sessions, I went in for twenty sessions. I got paid the same."[43] Because of Myers voicing the character, more ideas began to come. There were clearer story points, fresher gags and comedy bits.[44] "I got a letter from Spielberg thanking me so much for caring about the character," Myers said. "And he said the Scottish accent had improved the movie."[45]

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 for unexplained reasons. 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?"[46]


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.[47] 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.[48] 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."[39] The studio then turned to its production partners at Pacific Data Images (PDI), who began production with the studio in 1998[49] and helped Shrek get to its final, computer-animated look.[39] At this time, Antz was still in production at the studio[39] and effects supervisor Ken Bielenberg was asked by Aron Warner "to start development for Shrek".[50] Similar to previous PDI films, PDI used its own proprietary software (like the Fluid Animation System) for its animated movies. For some elements, however, it also took advantage of some of the powerhouse animation software on 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.[51]

"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."[52] One of the most difficult parts of creating the film was making Donkey's fur flow smoothly so that it did not look like that of a Chia Pet. 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.).[34] It was then the job of the visual effects group, led by Ken Bielenberg, to make the fur react to environment conditions. Once the technology was mastered, it could be applied to many aspects of the movie, including grass, moss, beards, eyebrows, and even threads on Shrek's tunic. Making human hair realistic was different from Donkey's fur, requiring a separate rendering system and much attention from the lighting and visual effects teams.[34]

Shrek has 31 sequences, with 1,288 total shots.[33] 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. In-film locations were finalized and, as demonstrated by past DreamWorks animated movies, color and mood was of the utmost importance.[34]


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 compose the score following Antz (1998) and Chicken Run (2000).[53] Powell was left out to compose scores for later Shrek films with Gregson-Williams due to a conflict.[54] The score was recorded at Abbey Road Studios by Nick Wollage and Slamm Andrews, with the latter mixing it at Media Ventures and Patricia Sullivan-Fourstar handling mastering.[55]

Shrek introduced a new element to give the film a unique feel. The film used pop music and other Oldies to make the story more forward. Covers of songs like "On the Road Again" and "Try a Little Tenderness" were integrated in the film's score.[56] The band Smash Mouth's song "All Star" gained massive popularity due to its usage in the film's opening credits.[57] As the film was about to be completed, Katzenberg suggested to the filmmakers to redo the film's ending to "go out with a big laugh"; instead of ending the 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" covered by Smash Mouth and show all the fairytale creatures in the film.[58]

Although Rufus Wainwright's version of the song "Hallelujah" appeared in the soundtrack album, it was John Cale's version that appeared in the film; in a radio interview, Rufus Wainwright suggested that his version of "Hallelujah" did not appear in the film due to the "glass ceiling" he was hitting because of his sexuality. An alternative explanation is that, although the filmmakers wanted Cale's version for the film, licensing issues prevented its use in the soundtrack album, because Wainwright was an artist for DreamWorks but Cale was not.[59]

Cultural references

In many places the film references classic movies, predominantly 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 the Disney film 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!".[60] The scene where Fiona is singing to the blue bird is a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[60] The transformation scene at the end of the film references Disney's Beauty and the Beast.[60]

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.[60] The scene where Princess Fiona is fighting the Merry Men is a lengthy reference to the film The Matrix.[60] 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.[60]

In the scene where the Magic Mirror gives Lord Farquaad the option to marry three princesses, it parodies popular American television show The Dating Game featuring: Cinderella and Snow White.[61] In addition, Lord Farquaad's theme park style kingdom Duloc heavily mimics Disneyland, even in so far as parodying the famous "It's a Small World" musical ride in the scene with the singing puppets.[61] It has been suggested that Lord Farquaad himself is an unflattering parody of then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, whom producer Katzenberg reportedly dislikes.[62]



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.[63][64][65]

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."[66] The restriction was later relaxed to allow ads for the film's soundtrack album onto the network.[67]

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.[68] 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.[69]

Home media

The film was released by DreamWorks Home Entertainment on VHS and DVD on November 2, 2001.[70][71] Both releases included Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party, a 3-minute musical short film, that takes up right after Shrek's ending, with film's characters performing a medley of modern pop songs.[72]

Shrek was released on video the same day that Pixar's Monsters, Inc. hit theaters. Since videos were traditionally released on Tuesdays, Disney's executives did not receive this 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 Shrek's video release made more than $100 million,[73] and eventually became the biggest selling DVD at the time with over 5.5 million sales.[74] Shrek generated more than $420 million in revenue for DreamWorks on DVD and VHS, and has sold more than 21 million copies of the 23 million shipped by January 2002.[70] Worldwide, more than 10 million Shrek DVDs have been sold by that point.[70]

A 3D version of the film was released on Blu-ray 3D by Paramount Home Entertainment on December 1, 2010, along with its sequels,[75] and a regular 2D Blu-ray boxset of the series was released six days later.[76]

Reception and legacy

Box office

Shrek opened on around 6,000 screens[77] across 3,587 theaters;[78] eleven of them showed the film digitally, made possible by the THX Division of Lucasfilm.[79] This was the first time that DreamWorks had shown one of its films digitally.[80] The film earned $11.6 million on its first day and $42.3 million on its opening weekend, topping the box office for the weekend and averaging $11,805 from 3,587 theaters.[81] In its second weekend, due to the Memorial Day Weekend holiday, the film gained 0.3 percent to $42.5 million and $55.2 million over the four-day weekend, resulting in an overall 30 percent gain.[82] Despite this, the film finished in second place behind Pearl Harbor and had an average of $15,240 from expanding to 3,623 sites.[82] In its third weekend, the film retreated 34 percent to $28.2 million for a $7,695 average from expanding to 3,661 theaters.[83] The film closed on December 6, 2001, after grossing $267.7 million domestically, along with $216.7 million overseas, for a worldwide total of $484.4 million.[5] 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..[5] The film sold an estimated 47,290,600 tickets in North America.[84]

Shrek became the highest-grossing animated film ever to be released in Australia, passing the mark set by The Lion King in 1994.[85] 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.[86]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 88% approval rating based on 206 reviews, with an average rating of 7.80/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "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."[87] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 84 out of 100 based on 34 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[88] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[89]

Eddie Murphy was particularly praised by reviewers for his performance and role as Donkey.

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".[90] 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".[91] Richard Schickel of Time also enjoyed Murphy's role, stating "No one has ever made a funnier jackass of himself than Murphy."[92] Peter Rainer of New York magazine liked the script, also stating "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."[93] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote "Shrek is a world-class charmer that could even seduce the Academy when it hands out the first official animation Oscar next year."[94] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three and a half stars out of four, saying "Shrek is not a guilty pleasure for sophisticated movie-goers; it is, purely and simply, a pleasure."[95] Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote "The witty, fractured fairy tale Shrek has a solid base of clever writing."[96] Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an A-, saying "A kind of palace coup, a shout of defiance, and a coming of age for DreamWorks."[97] Jay Boyar of the Orlando Sentinel wrote "It's a pleasure to be able to report that the movie both captures and expands upon the book's playful spirit of deconstruction."[98]

Steven Rosen of The Denver Post wrote "DreamWorks Pictures again proves a name to trust for imaginative, funny animated movies that delight kids and adults equally."[99] Susan Stark of The Detroit News gave the film four out of four stars, saying "Swift, sweet, irreverent, rangy and as spirited in the writing and voice work as it is splendid in design."[100] Lou Lumenick of the New York Post gave the film four out of four stars, saying "A fat green ogre with a grouchy disposition and worse manners, Shrek is the sort of unlikely hero that nobody could love – except just about everyone who sees this hip and hilarious animated delight."[101] Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News gave the film four out of four stars, saying "The brilliance of the voice work, script, direction and animation all serve to make Shrek an adorable, infectious work of true sophistication."[102] Rene Rodriguez gave the film three out of four stars, calling it "a gleefully fractured fairy tale that never becomes cynical or crass".[103] Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times gave the film four out of five stars, saying "Beating up on the irritatingly dainty Disney trademarks is nothing new; it's just that it has rarely been done with the demolition-derby zest of Shrek."[104] 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."[105]

John Anderson of Newsday wrote "The kind of movie that will entertain everyone of every age and probably for ages to come."[106] Jay Carr of The Boston Globe wrote "In an era when much on film seems old, Shrek seems new and fresh and clever."[107] Stephen Hunter of The Washington Post gave the film five out of five stars, saying "Despite all its high-tech weirdness, it is really that most perdurable of human constructions, a tale told well and true."[108] Joe Baltake of The Sacramento Bee wrote that it "isn't so much a fractured spoof of everything Disney, but actually a Monty Python flick for kids – kids of all ages".[107] Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer wrote "What gives Shrek its special artistic distinction is its witty and knowingly sassy dialogue, delivered by vocally charismatic performers whose voices remind us of their stellar screen personae in live-action movies."[109] Lisa Alspector of the Chicago Reader wrote "This romantic fantasy complicates the roles of beauty and beast, making it hard to guess what form a sensitive resolution will take."[110] Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal wrote "The charms of Shrek, which is based on the children's book by William Steig, go far beyond in-jokes for adults."[111] John Zebrowski of The Seattle Times gave the film three out of four stars, saying "The movie is helped immensely by its cast, who carry it through some of the early, sluggish scenes. But this is Murphy's movie. Donkey gets most of the good lines, and Murphy hits every one."[112]

A mixed review came from Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune, who gave the film two and a half stars out of four and compared the film to Toy Story 2, saying it "had a higher in-jokes/laughs ratio without straining to demonstrate its hipness or to evoke heartfelt emotions".[113] On the more negative side, Michael Atkinson of The Village Voice said he was "desperately avoiding the risk of even a half-second of boredom", and said "the movie is wall-to-window-to-door noise, babbling, and jokes (the first minute sees the first fart gag), and demographically it's a hard-sell shotgun spray."[114] Christy Lemire of the Associated Press described Shrek as a "90-minute onslaught of in-jokes", and said while it "strives to have a heart" with "a message about beauty coming from within", "somehow [the message] rings hollow".[107] Anthony Lane of The New Yorker said, despite the film "cunning the rendering of surfaces, there's still something flat and charmless in the digital look, and most of the pleasure rises not from the main romance but from the quick, incidental gags."[115]


At the 74th Academy Awards, Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, beating Monsters, Inc. and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. It was also the first animated film to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.[116][117][118] 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."[119] It was also nominated for The Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.[120][121]

Shrek was also nominated for 6 BAFTA Awards, 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.[122] 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.[123]

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.[124][125] 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.[126] 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.[127] In November 2009, the character, Lord Farquaad, was listed No. 14 in IGN UK's "Top 15 Fantasy Villains".[128] In 2006, it was ranked third on Bravo's 100 funniest films list.[129] The film's title character was awarded his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in May 2010.[130]

American Film Institute recognition:


Shrek premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, where it competed for the Palme d'Or,[7] making it the first animated film since Disney's Peter Pan (1953) to be chosen to do so.[8]


Previous films and TV shows, such as Fractured Fairy Tales and The Princess Bride, have parodied the traditional fairy tale.[131] However, Shrek itself has noticeably influenced the current generation of mainstream animated films.[131] Particularly after Shrek 2, animated films began to incorporate more pop culture references and end-film musical numbers.[131] Such elements can be seen in films like Robots, Chicken Little and Doogal.[131] 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![131]

Other media

Several video game adaptations of the film have been published on various game console platforms, including Shrek (2001), Shrek: Hassle at the Castle (2002), Shrek: Extra Large (2002), Shrek: Super Party (2002) and Shrek SuperSlam (2005).[132] Shrek was also included as a bonus unlockable character in the video game Tony Hawk's Underground 2 (2004).[133]

In 2003, Dark Horse Comics released a three-issue mini-series comic book adaptation of Shrek which was written by Mark Evanier, and the issues were later compiled into a trade paperback.[134]

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.[135] 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.[135] The Broadway production was recorded and released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital media.[136][137][138] A North American Tour opened July 25, 2010, in Chicago.[135] A London production opened in the West End on June 7, 2011.[139] The musical received many Tony Award nominations and won the 2009 Tony Award for Best Costume Design. It received five Laurence Olivier Award nominations including Best New Musical.[140]

A shot-for-shot fan remake titled Shrek Retold was released through 3GI Industries on November 29, 2018. The project was a collaboration of 200 filmmakers and mixes live action, hand drawn animation, Flash animation, CGI and various other art forms to recreate the film. The film is available on YouTube for free.[141][142]

Sequels and spin-offs

Three sequels were released over the years – the Oscar-nominated Shrek 2 in 2004, Shrek the Third in 2007, and Shrek Forever After in 2010. Shrek 2 was the only one to receive similar acclaim from critics,[143][144][145] though all three sequels were commercially successful.[146][147] Shrek the Halls (2007) and Scared Shrekless (2010) were released as holiday-themed short films, and a spin-off prequel film entitled Puss in Boots was released in 2011.[148] A fifth feature film was originally planned during the development of Shrek Forever After, but the idea was later abandoned by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.[10][148] Leading up to NBCUniversal's planned acquisition of DreamWorks Animation in 2016, it was announced that a fifth Shrek film would be released in 2019.[149] On November 6, 2018, Variety reported that Chris Meledandri had been tasked to reboot both Shrek and Puss in Boots, with the original cast potentially returning to reprise their roles.[150][151] While cast members reported that a script was completed for a fifth Shrek film, development stalled and future plans have yet to be officially announced.[11][12]


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  • Blair, Iain (May 5, 2001). "The Making of Shrek". Archived from the original on January 2, 2006. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  • Neuwirth, Allan (2003). Makin' Toons: Inside the Most Popular Animated TV Shows and Movies. Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

External links