'Shrek 2 is the best movie in the franchise and I will be taking no further questions'

fiona, donkey and shrek
Why Shrek 2 is the best movie in the franchiseDreamworks

20 years ago, Shrek 2 made its debut at Cannes Film Festival. Nominated for the coveted Palme d'Or, up alongside titles such as Old Boy, 2046 and Ladykillers, it (shockingly) lost out to Fahrenheit 9/11. But while it may have missed the official prize (let's be real it was robbed), the film has since gone onto win the hearts of millions around the world. And it surely goes without saying, but we're going to spell it out anyway, that Shrek 2 is the easily the best movie within the Shrek universe.

And yes, it is a universe. Since the release of the first movie in 2001, there's been another three movies in the franchise; Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, and Shrek Forever After. As well as a TV series, two TV specials, countless video games and of course the musical, which has been running since 2008.

But let's be real for a sec. Because when you think of Shrek, you think of Shrek 2. When you want a comfort movie on the worst of hangovers, it's Shrek 2. When you need a child appropriate movie you can actually enjoy with your nieces and nephews, it's Shrek 2. And when you think of a complex movie that is prestigious and respected for both its cinematic mastery and unparalleled soundtrack, it's, (you guessed it!), Shrek 2.

shrek and fiona

It's the best movie in the series by a clear green mile, and essentially in a completely different league to the rest of it. Even the A-Listers agree, with Nicholas Galitzine recently choosing it for one of his top four Letterboxd movie picks, saying: "It's an amazing movie, and it's the best animated movie to ever exist. And I think it's one of the few movies where the second one is better than the original."

Honestly, he's right. The first has its moments for sure. It sets up the franchise, features a moving rendition of 'Hallejuah' and has been serving the girlies with blunt bob inspo since 2001. But the second movies knocks the first, and the rest of the franchise (we're not even going to address the third film) out of the swamp water.

In case you've forgotten the plot, in Shrek 2, Shrek and Fiona are now married and back in reality, when they get invited by Fiona's parents to a royal ball to celebrate their marriage. Chaos ensues as the Fairy Godmother plots for her own son, Prince Charming, to charm Fiona and win her hand in marriage. Shrek, along with Donkey and the newly introduced Puss in Boots, plot to save Fiona so they can continue their happily ever after.

The story is perfectly paced, and properly moves on from the original movie; so much so you could watch it and completely understand and enjoy it without ever having seen the first film. On the flip side, it also builds upon the lore we learned in the first film, and gives us insight into the unanswered questions we had from the original.

fiona, donkey and shrek

It keeps the traditional fairytale references we've come to love and expect from Shrek, such as the kiss at midnight, Harold turning into a frog and the arrival of the Muffin Man. And then of course, there's the introduction of 00s easter eggs in a fairytale world such as Farbucks Coffee and the Friar's Fat Boy drive thru (we still want a medieval meal and matching crown).

The freshness is helped by the addition of a whole new set of characters, making it feel current. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz all reprised their roles as Shrek, Donkey and Fiona, and then we had the arrival of actual Dame Julie Andrews as Queen Lilian, John Cleese as King Harold, Rupert Everett as Prince Charming, Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, and Jennifer Saunders as Fairy Godmother.

shrek, fiona and her parents

The cast made the second movie what is was, with Jennifer Saunders being a particularly shining light. Her rendition of 'Holding Out for a Hero' towards the end of the film is spine tingling, and paired with the climactic scene of the human Shrek and giant gingerbread man Mongo charging the palace, it's honestly nothing short of cinematic genius.

Speaking of the music, we need to address the soundtrack. With the introduction of Puss in Boots, it meant we were treated to the incredible performance of 'Livin La Vida Loca' at the end of the movie, where he reenacts Jennifer Beals' Flashdance scene. Iconic. And the introduction song, 'Accidentally in Love' pairs perfectly with the hilarious opening scene where we see the couple in various stages of their honeymoon.

And we also get an adorable update on Donkey and Dragon's relationship during the post-credits scene (side note: whatever happened to good post-credits scenes?) where we discover they have babies.

One of the movie's strongest highlights has to be its humour, which continues to appeal to both adults and children alike and for the most part has aged pretty well. So well in fact, we reckon it could be entered into Cannes 2024, and this time, walk away with the prize. Justice for Shrek 2!

Shrek 2 is available on Apple TV+ now

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