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If computer animated movies ever get faster and easier to produce, Hollywood had better look out — this is a genre that's going places. Pixar hit the ground running with Toy Story in 1995 and has had a string of sharp, funny successes that consistently put every other family friendly movie on the market to shame. And now PDI/DreamWorks (the folks who did Antz) have broken into the upper echelons with Shrek, a smart, hilarious fractured fairy tale. Shrek, the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers), sets off to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) in an attempt to win his precious swamp back from the pompous, Napoleonic Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow). Farquaad has filled Shrek's beloved home with displaced fairy tale creatures; they're mussing up his perfect kingdom, DuLoc, and he wants them out — once that happens and Shrek returns with the princess, Farquaad can marry royalty and officially become a king. Shrek reluctantly accepts the help of Donkey (Eddie Murphy), a motor-mouthed ass (literally) who insists on being Shrek's friend, whether the ogre likes it or not. The companions find Fiona, only to discover that she's a little unconventional for a storybook maiden — she wins Shrek's heart, and complications ensue. The story has its sweet, quiet moments (which Myers does wonders with as Shrek), but the movie really comes into its own in the comic bits. From the Gingerbread Man interrogation scene to DuLoc's fascist take on Disneyland and Robin Hood's cheesy dance number, the jokes fly fast and furious. Murphy's constant jabbering yields lots of great lines ("tomorrow morning, I'm making waffles!"), and Myers imbues Shrek with his own brand of self-effacing comedy. It's a well-cast, well-made movie in which the spectacular animation, while impressive, definitely plays second fiddle to the strong story and engaging characters. DreamWorks' two-disc special edition DVD is packed with a storybook's worth of extras and special features, too. For starters, both full- and widescreen versions of the movie are included (1.33:1 and anamorphic 1.78:1 transfers, respectively); both transfers are gorgeous and do the digital images proud. Audio options on the full-screen version (Disc One) include English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English, French, and Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround, plus English, French, and Spanish subtitles. On Disc Two (widescreen) you'll find English DTS Digital Surround, English, French, and Spanish DD 5.1, and English Dolby 2.0 (with the same subtitle options). Goodies include interactive games, music videos, an HBO "First Look" featurette, cast and filmmaker biographies (with special character interviews created just for the DVD), the Shrek in the Swamp Karaoke Dance Party (a musical montage/medley in which all the characters sing and dance), a full-length commentary by directors Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and producer Aron Warner, storyboard pitches of deleted scenes, "The Tech of Shrek" featurette, technical goofs, production reels featuring character development sketches, production notes, trailers, and more. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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