The complicated legacy of the blockbuster animated film
The theaters of the 1990s were dominated by musical comedies animated by fairy tales. The resurgence of Disney’s animation department through titles like The little Mermaid and Aladdin inspired a wave of fakes that ensured the Princesses did not fail to sing along to the cliffside about their greatest desires. By the end of the decade, the clichés in these films were blatantly apparent. The audience was ready to see something different in the kid-friendly animation. Whether they realize it or not, moviegoers were prepared and ready for Shrek.
Although today the characteristics of Shrek have become as familiar as the color of the sky due to rampant internet memes, there was a time when ShrekThe humor style of was downright moldy. Using pop songs in a period fairytale setting was a pioneer in itself. Equally cool was the fact that he treated fairytale staples (like the Gingerbread Man or Pinocchio) with disrespect rather than a healthy hand. On top of all that, centering the story on a farting ogre who made jokes about male genitals took the movie away from Ariel or Hercules even further.
And then there were the feelings of isolation explored in the main characters of Shrek. Unlike the animated protagonists of the ’90s who wanted to go on an adventure “somewhere in the open sea,” Shrek just wanted to go home to his swamp. He didn’t want to leave his unlucky home for fear of “people.” [judging] me before they even know me. There is a terror in both Shrek and Fiona that has to do with people finding out about the real you. This kind of emotional vulnerability is always terrifying whether you are an animated ogre or a normal person. It’s a concept that the typical animation kids’ fare had generally avoided, but that Shrek approached head-on.
In this way and countless other ways, Shrek was brazenly different from the default type of family entertainment at the time. This included previous DreamWorks animation efforts such as The prince of Egypt and The road to El Dorado, who tried to make more biased adult versions of classic animated musicals with varying degrees of success. Greatness in The prince of Egypt has been replaced by ShrekThe vibes and low-key jokes of Donkey’s road trip compliment one of Shrek’s rocks. In 2001, as Shrek sent audiences out of the theater with an energetic and contagious cover of “I’m a Believer,” it was hard to imagine that this type of storytelling could ever become stale.
Then again, it was also hard to imagine the wrong lessons Hollywood would learn. Shreksuccess. Following dead Poolhuge box office income, director James gunn took to social media to implore studio executives not to draw the wrong conclusions. Specifically, he hoped rival studios would try to replicate dead Poolsuccess by making unique films that do not speak to the public. However, he casually predicted that they would just think dead PoolThe R rating and the vague concept of meta-humor were the reasons for the film’s success.
Gunn’s pessimistic prediction of movie studio behavior here reflects the kind of thinking that Shrek tragically inspired. Its gigantic success has not inspired other animation studios to think outside the box and produce equally quirky projects. Instead of, Shrek inspired a mini-wave of other animated films doing devious postmodern takes on fairy tales. Shrek was created in response to the status quo of animated cinema in the 1990s. Now films like Shrek were the new status quo. Subversion had become the institution.
Among those knockoffs were a handful of highly rated features, like the 2006 Hoodwinked!, which at least used a non-linear narrative structure to spice up the comic fairytale formula. Overall, however, this trend hasn’t produced much like the classics. Something like Luckily N’Ever After was as generic as the original Shrek was creative, ditto for the trio of Unstable fables movies. ShrekIts influence has become so widespread that it has even spread to Disney Animation itself. The 2005 studio film Little chicken wore more than a hint of ShrekThe influence of its saturated pop culture on a bird who thinks the sky is falling.
And then there was the new trend of ending the movies with a dance party to a famous pop song. Established in Shrek with a streak on the Smash Mouth cover of “I’m a Believer”, one could easily lose count of the following animated films that have chosen to end their story with a similar scene however it turns out. part of history. This was especially true of the DreamWorks Animation titles, which would use everything from “Bad” by Michael Jackson to a Christina Aguilera cover of “Car Wash” to close the individual titles.
In retrospect, it’s astounding to think that’s what studio executives actually thought audiences liked the most. Shrek. Decades later, when people talk about what they value most Shrek (excluding all those memes), it tends to be very specific lines of dialogue (“It would be so much easier if I weren’t color blind!”) or how relatable the feelings of characters like Shrek or Fiona are. . It is not enough to throw a pop song on a fairytale setting to do the following Shrek. Making a comedy that resonates for all ages with characters you can invest in was Shrekthe secret ingredient in.
These qualities were lacking in the majority of Shrek imitations and even later Shrek suites like the gloomy Shrek the third. The routine of how the features of this franchise had become apparent by the time of the fourth Shrek movie hit theaters. Years 2010 Forever shrek earned the lowest domestic gross of the series by a considerable margin. Six months after its debut, Disney Animation released its comeback movie, Tangled. This updated version of Rapunzel’s story had flashes of modern humor, but with its heartfelt tone and musical numbers from Alan menken, it was made in the mold of classic Disney movies (the genre of the original Shrek was mocking).
Tangled ended up being a big hit, solidifying the return of Disney fairy tales. Shrek was now overwhelmed by the very type of movies he was meant to subvert. In the more than ten years since Shrek saga over, Disney fairy tales have only grown in popularity with new animated features such as Moana and a series of live adaptations of classic titles like The beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. Meanwhile, Shrek hasn’t faded from pop culture consciousness, but the franchise has declined significantly in importance, and trendy postmodern fairy tale comedies have almost completely disappeared.
Shrek was a cinematic example of the fastest burning candle. While it was a game-changer for animation, rival studios learned the wrong lessons from production and flooded the market with uninspired fakes. Ironically, Disney Animation’s candid new interpretations of fairy tales seem to have learned the right lessons from Shrek. By providing stories that focus on sisters or people of color, Frozen and Raya and the last dragon try to provide stories that are not told often. Just like Shrek, they dare to bend the rules of what should be in a ‘traditional’ animated family comedy while delivering some very engaging laughs and drama.
Shrek should have taught Hollywood that animated films don’t have to be a thing to be successful. Deviating from the norm can be risky, but it can also result in something special. Unfortunately, most films inspired by Shrek had taken inspiration from his pop culture references rather than his daring reworking of storytelling. But it’s not all bad news for this lively franchise 20 years after the original’s release. Shrek. Nowadays, Shrek spawned two great movies, an endless supply of increasingly bizarre internet memes, and a flimsy but decent knockoff that managed to deliver an earworm about the values of the brew. These are undeniably positive parts of the messy swamp that is Shrekthe legacy of pop culture.
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