Sunday, November 3, 2013

Don't Make a Scene: Shrek

The Story:  Gotta get the dark recesses of Hallowe'en outta our heads, brush away the cob-webs and the bats out of our belfries.

Let's lighten it up (even if there's a slight Hallowe'en reference in the videos).

Disney has been at the top of the castle for a long time now.  But, as the film technology has gone from analog and photography to moving pixels around, they've been seeing challenges from other fronts.  Disney got first releasing dibs (then acquired) the chief competitor Pixar, but one of their chief rivals is the team of Steven Spielberg (who executive produced cartoons for Warners) and Jeffrey Katzenberg—formerly one of their own and responsible for Disney's resurgence in cartoons starting with The Little Mermaid.  When Katzenberg reached a brick wall in the Disney hierarchy despite his animation success, he jumped ship, joined forces with Spielberg and David Geffen to form Dreamworks SKG, and set about to head up that up-start start-up's animation department, both by cell and computer.

Shrek, based on William Steig's character (but not his book!), was one of their first successes, a rather crude—by today's standards—CGI film, that battled awkward movement and the Uncanny Valley, but managed to surpass that with such humor and a very snarky attitude towards anything with a sentimental past, that to gripe about the animation seemed...ungrateful.

Speaking of which, Katzenberg's former employer got a lot of tsouris in Shrek, most notably in the introduction to the town of DuLoc (that's how it's spelled in the script), with its themed parking lot segregations, serpentine rope lines (embarrassing when no one's waiting), bobble-headed crowd referees, surprise insta-pics, and most cleverly, one of their attractions, the "it's a small world" ride,** created by Disney for the UNICEF pavilion (sponsored by Pepsi) for the 1964 New York World's Fair*** to promote world brotherhood (in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis).  It's the best zinger at Disneyland's expense since the "Sleeping Beauty" episode of "Fractured Fairy Tales" from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show" (included here)****, over which Uncle Walt nearly sued Jay Ward (Ward's usual reply to lawsuits was "Go ahead. We need the publicity!").

The Set-Up:  Shrek (voiced by Mike Meyers) is an ogre, living in a swamp outside Duloc, run by the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow), who has been cracking down on all the "fairy-tale things" that have been besmirching his perfect kingdom's rep (and property values no doubt—although I'm not sure why, as they're all in the public domain).  Anyway, they're all squatting in Shrek's swamp, and that he does not like.  So, of he goes with the recently en-chatted donkey named Donkey (Eddie Murphy) to give the Lord Farquaad a piece of his mind.


DuLoc Parking Lot - Lancelot Section 

Shrek and Donkey come out of the field that is right by the parking lot. The castle itself is about 40 stories high.  

DONKEY But that's it. That's it right there. That's DuLoc. I told ya I'd find it.  

SHREK So...  

SHREK ...that must be Lord Farquaad's castle.  

DONKEY Uh-huh. That's the place. 

SHREK Do you think maybe he's compensating for something? 

(He laughs, but then groans as Donkey doesn't get the joke. 

He continues walking through the parking lot.)  

DONKEY Hey, wait. Wait up, Shrek.  

MAN Hurry, darling. We're late. Hurry.  

SHREK Hey...


(The attendant, who is wearing a giant head that looks like Lord Farquaad, screams and begins running through the rows of rope to get to the front gate to get away from Shrek.)  

SHREK Wait a second. 

SHREK Look, I'm not gonna eat you. 

SHREK I just - - I just - -  

(He sighs and then begins walking straight through the rows.  

 The attendant runs into a wall and falls down.  

Shrek and Donkey look at him  

then continue on into DuLoc.) 


They look around but all is quiet.  

 SHREK It's quiet. 

SHREK Too quiet. 

SHREK Where is everybody?  

DONKEY Hey, look at this!  

Donkey runs over and pulls a lever that is attached to a box marked 'Information'. 

The music winds up 

and then the box doors open up. 

There are little wooden people inside and they begin to sing. 

WOODEN PEOPLE Welcome to DuLoc/such a perfect town 

WOODEN PEOPLE Here we have some rules/ Let us lay them down  

WOODEN PEOPLE Don't make waves, 

WOODEN PEOPLE ...stay in line  

WOODEN PEOPLE And we'll get a-long fine  

WOODEN PEOPLE DuLoc is a per-fect... 

WOODEN PEOPLE ...plaaace/  

WOODEN PEOPLE Please keep off of the grass  

WOODEN PEOPLE Shine your shoes, 

WOODEN PEOPLE wipe your... 




WOODEN PEOPLE DuLoc is a perfect plaaaace.  

Suddenly a camera takes Donkey and Shrek's picture.
DONKEY Wow! Let's do that again! 

(makes ready to run over and pull the lever again) 

SHREK (grabs Donkey's tail and holds him still) No. No. No, no, no! 


Words by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio and Joe Stillman and Roger S.H. Schulman (plus Cody Cameron, Chris Miller and Conrad Vernon)

Pictures by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson and the Dreamworks animation department.

Shrek is available on DVD from Dreamworks Home Video



"The Happiest Place on Earth"

But lest we start feeling all SUPERIOR or anything: in a case of the cauldron calling the kettle black, here's the "Shrek 4-D" ride at Universal Studios (Note the opening pixie). What's good for the Mouse is good for the Cheese...(and I'll bet they have those rope mazes while people wait to get in, too).

* The updated lyrics for the DuLoc song from "Scared Shrek-less" are:

Welcome to DuLoc/Such a creepy town
What was once pristine/Now is all run down
We will chop off your head/and then laugh when you're dead
DuLoc is a creepy place.
Come on in/What the heck
Fall right down/break your...face
DuLoc is
DuLoc is
DuLoc is a creepy place!

** At an introductory get-together at a job, the new recruits were asked to introduce ourselves, give some brief background a bonus question tell the group what our favorite...or least favorite...ride was in Disneyland.  When it got around to me, I answered that my least favorite was "It's a Small World" "but if you play Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon while you're in it, it improves it a 1000%."

*** To movie fans, it is now the site of the Stark Expo 2010 (from Iron Man 2), and, according to Men in Black, was designed to cover up the first landing of extra-terrestrials: "Why else would they hold it in Queens?"

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