Can you believe it? Shrek, that lovable ogre, almost had a completely different accent. In an earlier version of the character, he actually had a slight New York twang instead of the iconic Scottish accent we know so well.
When the creators of the movie were first shaping the character, they had cast Chris Farley to voice Shrek. Tragically, Chris Farley passed away in 1997 after recording most of his lines. His brother, Kevin Farley, shared that the original Shrek was quite distinct from what we see today. In a 2015 interview with Yahoo, Kevin mentioned, “At first, the Shrek character was more like Chris himself – a modest, fumbling, innocent guy.”
However, after Chris Farley’s untimely death at the young age of 33, the studio had to make a change. They brought in Mike Myers, known for his role in Austin Powers, to take over the role. With this change, the script had to be reworked.
At this point, we encountered a second version of Shrek’s potential accent. Initially, Mike Myers had recorded the lines in his natural Canadian accent. Yet, feeling that his own voice didn’t quite capture the essence of the ogre, he proposed a complete redo, and the studio agreed.
Mike Myers explained his choice to switch up the accent in an interview with USA Today. He said, “Shrek embodies a struggle between the royalty of fairy tales and the ordinary people. In my mind, Shrek grew up in a working-class environment. Given that Lord Farquaad had an English accent, I thought of using a Scottish accent.”
And this accent choice turned out to be a huge success. Even Steven Spielberg reached out to Myers, expressing gratitude for the improvement the Scottish accent brought to the movie. Myers recounted, “Spielberg sent me a letter thanking me for my dedication to the character and acknowledging that the Scottish accent elevated the film.”
Time flies, and it’s been two decades since we were first introduced to Shrek. While it has become a beloved classic for many, a recent critique in The Guardian sparked some controversy. The writer, Scott Tobias, labelled the movie as “unfunny” and “overrated,” even going so far as to call it a “low for blockbuster animation.”
Tobias elaborated, “Shrek didn’t hit the mark. It lacked humor and its visuals weren’t appealing. It set a template that many unfunny, unattractive computer-animated comedies emulated, with a mix of shallow self-references and excessive sentimentality. Sadly, three Shrek sequels and a spin-off followed this formula, and though the trend has subsided, its impact remains.”
Well, that’s quite a critique.
Why Shrek Was Awesome
The 2001 animated film, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, not only revolutionized the animation industry but also captured the hearts of viewers around the world. It's a movie that stands as a testament to the power of storytelling and the enduring charm of its characters.
From the moment "Shrek" hit the big screen, it was clear that this was not your typical animated fairytale. It defied the conventions of the genre, offering a fresh and irreverent take on classic stories. While Disney was known for its pristine, polished princess tales, "Shrek" boldly threw mud on the glass slipper and celebrated the not-so-perfect.
The film follows the journey of Shrek, a lovable ogre with a heart of gold. Voiced by the incomparable Mike Myers, Shrek is an unconventional hero with a grumpy demeanor and a penchant for scaring off intruders. His sidekick, Donkey, voiced by the hilarious Eddie Murphy, provides a constant stream of witty humor and energy.
What made "Shrek" awesome was its ability to appeal to audiences of all ages. Children could enjoy the colorful characters and zany adventures, while adults were treated to a cleverly layered story filled with pop culture references and humor that worked on multiple levels. The film's humor was a delicate blend of slapstick, satire, and witty wordplay, making it a joy to watch whether you were eight or eighty.
At its core, "Shrek" was a story of self-acceptance and the celebration of uniqueness. Shrek, who initially just wants to be left alone in his swamp, comes to terms with his identity and learns to embrace love and friendship. Princess Fiona, voiced by Cameron Diaz, breaks free from the stereotype of a helpless damsel in distress and showcases her inner strength and independence.
The animation itself was groundbreaking at the time. "Shrek" was the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and it did so for a reason. The character designs were charmingly unconventional, giving us characters like Puss in Boots and Gingy the Gingerbread Man, who have since become iconic in their own right. The attention to detail, particularly in the character expressions and the design of Shrek's swamp, made the world come alive in a way that was both fantastical and believable.
The soundtrack was another element that contributed to the film's awesomeness. Smash Mouth's "All Star" became the unofficial anthem of the film, and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams perfectly complemented the story's emotional highs and lows. The music added an extra layer of immersion, making the viewer feel as if they were on this epic adventure with Shrek and his companions.
"Shrek" was also a pioneer in its use of humor, satire, and pop culture references. The film was unafraid to poke fun at the very industry it belonged to, taking shots at Disney and the saccharine nature of traditional fairy tales. It was a refreshing change of pace and gave the film a unique edge that set it apart from its contemporaries.
The success of "Shrek" led to three sequels and spin-offs, cementing the franchise as a cultural phenomenon. While some critics argue that the subsequent installments didn't quite match the original's brilliance, they undeniably contributed to the ongoing legacy of Shrek and his friends.
Even years after its release, "Shrek" continues to enchant new generations of viewers. Its timeless themes of acceptance, friendship, and love, wrapped in a package of humor and adventure, make it a classic that transcends time. Shrek's iconic catchphrase, "Ogres are like onions," reminds us that people, like ogres, have many layers. It's a lesson in empathy that still resonates with audiences today.
In conclusion, "Shrek" was not just awesome; it was a game-changer in the animation industry. It shattered preconceived notions of what an animated film could be, delivering a fresh and funny take on classic fairy tales. With its memorable characters, clever humor, and timeless message of self-acceptance, "Shrek" remains a beloved classic that will continue to be awesome for generations to come.