Year: 2001
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
Director: Andrew Adamson/Vicky Jensen
Producer: Jeffrey Katzenberg
Writer: William Steig/Ted Elliott/Terry Rossio/Joe Stillman/Roger S H Schulman
Cast: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, John Lithgow, Vincent Cassell

It's easy to forget the modus operandi of this story was a satire, a good-natured, fractured fairy story. The reason it's so hard to see such a core is because it's delivered under your radar by such well-written dialogue, well-drawn characters and a fast-paced plot. Like the films of Pixar, it's an example of what can happen when writing is treated seriously by producers and studios.

It was also one of the first serious rounds in the ongoing studio war for the hearts and minds of the New Audience – not teen boys for action films, girls for chick flicks or the middle aged for 'issues' movies, but everyone in the family. There's bright, flashing colours and action for the littlies and a nudge-nudge sensibility and plenty of in-jokes for grown ups. For those not in the know for example, the villain is a veiled jibe at producer Jeffrey Katzenberg's former Disney boss Michael Eisner (with whom he fell out spectacularly) and the city of Duloc a reference to Disneyland.

Shrek (Myers) is an implausibly Scottish-accented ogre who lives alone in a remote swamp in a land populated with every fairy tale character you've ever heard. He just wants to go about his business and live a quiet life but it's turned upside down when the authoritarian Lord Farquad (Lithgow) banishes all the creatures to his swamp in a sort of ethnic cleansing operation.

When Shrek goes to protest with one of the more successful sidekicks of movie history in a miniature donkey (Murphy) in tow, the mean-spirited, little guy complex-ridden Lord tells him he'll rid the swamp of the uninvited guests if Shrek rescues the atypical princess (Diaz) stuck at the top of an atypical tower guarded by an atypical dragon and delivers her to be his wife. Shrek agrees and the most iconic gang since The Dirty Dozen is set for the journey.

To just talk about the story however is like calling Star Wars a space opera flick. There's so much more going on and the legacy of the film on our culture is immeasurable, from the gags to the characterisations and everything in between. And it was all delivered via then-newly minted CGI animation that's so passé today.

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