Green Ogre and Guilt
In the course of my media studies, I developed a condition whereby I can't say I like a film, "Just because." An intellectual justification is required and there is the associated pressure that it better be original and well thought-out. This is where I think my complex is rooted and it reared its ugly head again when I was asked to write about Shrek 2.
We are nearing the one-year mark since Shrek 2 was released, and until a few days ago, I felt no guilt in saying to film buffs and neophytes alike, that I thoroughly enjoyed both instalments of the tales of the green ogre and his princess. I am now faced with the uncomfortably familiar feeling of guilt: the gift that just keeps on giving. Was I too quick to praise? Do films like Shrek 2 simply flatter inflated film egos?
Pop culture cleverness is something I value in my friends, foes and most importantly in my media. So when Shrek 2 started dishing out references to Lord of the Rings and Mission Impossible, John Cleese, Jennifer Saunders and Joan Rivers, I was a happy camper. I am now calling into question that validity of that enjoyment.
I am starting to believe, however, that I am far from alone in my guilty cinephiliac pleasures. More films and television shows are cluing in to this market of cinema-savvy viewers, but a delicate balance needs to be struck to make sure that our media continues to strive for intellectually stimulating innovative forms of entertainment.
Shark Tale recently followed in the footsteps of Shrek 2, but failed to offer anything new to the genre. Whereas Shrek 2 proved to be a viable sequel, Shark Tale screamed sloppy copy. Shark Tale was overly pre-packaged, from the "in" actors lending their voices to the project, the commercial artists participating in the soundtrack and the insertion of unimaginative pop culture references, like GUP instead of GAP.
In a time when countless seasons of Survivor, American Idol and The Amazing Race have flooded the primetime slots, one really shouldn't be all that surprised that DreamWorks would want to cash in on a successful formula. Shrek 2 managed a major feat by intelligently flattering my film ego without making it feel contrived. Shrek 2 appealed to the inner nerd and I want to let her have this one: I barely let her speak out loud as it is.