In Shrek 2 there is even an homage to a film
made by the same company that HASN'T EVEN BEEN FRICKIN' RELEASED
YET. Jesus. Homage, Schmomage. Here's the rule. Homages do
not entertain in any movie. They are self indulgent effluence
that used to be fun when Artoo Deetoo appeared upside down
on the emerging mothership in Close Encounters.
Homages and allusions to previous works of cinematic art work
in one place and one place only – Springfield. Only Matt Gröening
can pull them off with aplomb. Everyone else has to heed the
rule. Homages make film-makers look desperate to be in the
audience's club. Forget it. Just make the movie and ixnay
on the references. PLEASE.
the young 'movie brat' Brian DePalma gleefully homaged Hitchcock
at every turn in his work from the mid seventies all the way
to... well the rest of his career actually, I started to really
distrust the dictionary.
special honour or respect shown publicly."
So DePalma was respectful of a man whose talent was clearly
worth 'homaging'. He was also public about his respect, not
at all reticent about letting people know what shot was modelled
on what Hitchcock set up, which angle took off the angle in
the master's film... Fill in the blank. In fact for all his
blatant stealing, Mr. Quentin Tarantino is just as publicly
vocal about his 'homages'. In a BBC Omnibus post Pulp and pre 'Bill killing', the two film-makers
were in the same room talking about their homages. Like minds
comparing cinematic loot. Tarantino seemed to deconstruct
his entire oeuvre with clips from those films he gleefully
stole from. "He's nicked everything!" I remember
thinking. Then just as quickly, I thought "Well, a lot
of us do." Where is true originality? It's in our inimitable
voice. I know where 'homagers' are coming from movie passion-wise
but it's all so chokingly redundant nowadays. You want to
breathe in a good movie, not get a lung full of recycled ideas
posing as deferred respect.
in the Devil's Dictionary (with respect, public or otherwise,
to Mr. Ambrose Bierce) I suggest the following:
the wilful and self-confessed stealing by the temporarily
and lazy from the richly creative."
rate both DePalma and Tarantino as gifted film-makers, no
question (hence the jammed in word 'temporarily' in the above
definition). I just wish the impact of any artist's work wasn't
so hugely diluted once you find out where the ideas really
came from and it's not the space between their own ears. Every
time I mention to Slarek, "God, did you see that scene
in 'so-and-so movie' where..." and before I can finish
the sentence, he has beguiled me (and shocked me) by telling
me which film-maker has literally already been there and done
that. Vastly depressing.
also oddly disconcerting how one's respect for John Williams' Star Wars main title can plummet if you play
Eric Korngold's main title for the forties' movie King's
Row . Scary. And Williams got an Oscar for Star
Wars too. Well done, Eric. The real shame of it is
that Williams' full score for Star Wars is
sublime. But that main theme IS King's Row and it tarnishes great work by association.
2 takes homage to such a level that it's actually
difficult to keep track of the narrative so chock full of
nods and winks to the parents of the children the green ogre
apparently appeals to. But what is the point of homage within Shrek 2? "Hey, we know the theme to Hawaii 5-O too!" What? Why? I'm sorry?
Or is it "We think Tom Cruise is great so we had one
of our characters do a scene in his honour..." Yeah and
with the Mission Impossible music just in
case you didn't get it – but here's the kicker. Cruise is
homaged by a wooden boy playing Tom Cruise. Ain't that a blast?
That's an affectionate nod with fathoms of sub-text (and splinters).
land of Far Far Away is Beverly Hills of course and we have
to sit through all the damn product placement ('Farbucks'
anyone? Bet that one took a week or two to think up). It's
so relentless that the subtleties of the first Shrek now appear as mystical beats in a heavenly chorus. It's almost
like Dreamworks has decreed, "Right, you've had your
fun, now it's our turn to make the mazoola." There is
a slight irony at work here. Spielberg has been quoted saying
that sequels were like having a winning line on hold on a
slot machine. In business, no one can hear you cream (the
enormous profits). Spielberg also said (granted, in his younger
less corporate days) that profits from mega-hits were good
things because then smaller movies like Diner get made... God, one Diner a year and I'd
be clicking my heels. Alas.
If Shrek B.O. = 80 x Diner Budgets, where are the other 79 Diners?
Shrek was a curious beast that a great many fell in love with. I
appreciated the film; for its subversion of fairytale; its
cavalier "Screw you, Disney," disregard for the
wrath of Eisner – compliments of ex-Mouse Man Jeffery Katzenberg;
and that one lovely US car park gag – Shrek and Donkey trudge
through the 'Lance-Lot' But I wasn't as touched as others
were even by the 'Hallelujah' song. It was fun but nothing
to e-mail Rome about. It did well so we knew that 'happily
ever after' was a financial consideration not a fairy tale
ending. So Steven and chums lined up No. 2 perhaps a few months
before No. 1 had been released. You can never tell – though
No. 3 and No. 4 are in the fast track pipeline due to the
extraordinary success of No. 2.
so how do you turn 'homage' into 'ha ha' bucks? How well does
'homage' work – to be merely and obviously reprising another
movie – to elicit that laugh; apparently very well indeed
if Shrek 2 is anything to go by. You make Shrek 2 and watch as not even the strong
index finger of the little Dutch boy can stem the dollar dyke
overflow. I despair. "Look at how much money we're making!"
has somehow in this dollar deluded world translated into "Look
how good this movie is!"
how good The Sun newspaper is!
you had the wit and wherewithal to count the 'humorous' references,
the winking allusions to popular culture, the "Hey, we're
so hip, we come up to Douglas Adams' knee caps..." swaggering,
then you'd be the dullest person on the planet. Shrek
2 is just a winker's paradise masquerading as children's
entertainment. It's a sheep in wolf's clothing. But it does
have its moments (to nod to Dreamworks' pride and joy for
one acquiescing second). My seven year old had me take him
twice in 24 hours and you cannot agree to those terms unless
(a) your child has the negatives of some major parental misdemeanour
and/or (b) it was an entertaining film (oh, OK).
bald truth is that Shrek 2 could be a mildly
amusing stand up show but no. It's a computer generated movie
so we have to appreciate it as such. Why? To anyone who has
never heard of a 'nurb' – watch Toy Story and then Shrek 2 and tell me how far advanced
the latter is to the former. Betcha can't do it. CGI strives
for photo realism. Why? I assume that Cameron Diaz (when in
front of a camera) is photo realistic. What is it about Shrek that has to be CG photo realistic? Nothing. It's a cartoon.
Accept it. What makes any movie work?
Not technology. You cannot point to a photo realistic oak
tree in Shrek 2 and tell me that makes a
difference to the experience of watching the movie. Well,
maybe it does to some people but... I sat there watching a
crane shot down an oak tree and all I could think of was NOT
"I wonder why both Shrek and Donkey are wandering in
the woods?" but "Jesus, those leaves must have taken
months to render..." Not good.
– Shrek 2 – worth the admission? Just.
Scottish accent is as poor as his last one. Diaz is Diaz but
with more copious wind breaking (both ends). John Cleese plays
Basil in voice as Shrek's father in law. I kept seeing his
face so couldn't really work with that character. Julie Andrews
(bless her) plays the Queen. What else? Jennifer Ab Fab Saunders did a great fairy godmother if only the CG character
wasn't so primly drab. And of all people (on the slippery
'impartial' slope?) Jonathan Ross does a turn as an ugly sister.
It's painfully clear he's a much better critic than voice
talent. And I am really not talking about the 'r's.
story? Oh, alright. Shrek and Fiona return to Fiona's parents
in California (whatever, where ever) who are unhappy at the
ogre-esque state of marital affairs. Things happen and everything
turns out fine. OK?
the performance honours go to a man much maligned because
God gave him physical perfection, at least in the eyes of
Madonna. Here was a man whose looks unlaunched a thousand
zips (no, I don't know what I mean by that either). Here was
a man who was not being hired because of his looks (despite
the fact that he was hired because he played a hero very much
like the one he would be providing the voice for). I give
you his name, Antonio Banderas – the real star of Shrek
2. His delivery is perfect, his 'Puss In Boots' character
a scream but even though the actor had nothing to do with
the two best moments in the film, I still salute him.
clutches his giant hat and looks into Shrek's eyes with his
own larger than 8 balls. Both audiences I saw the film with
both went "Aaaaah" very loudly and very appreciatively.
There was hardly any animation in the shot but it was wonderful.
And the film-makers had the balls to realise that (like Shrek
2) if at first something succeeds, then do it again.
worked better the second time around.
is where I came in. All hail Shrek 2, not as good as the first
but you have got to love those pussy eyes...