Only one critical favorite, DreamWorks' irreverent family film Shrek, is making a significant summer splash ($176 million at the box office so far.) The film's success can be explained in many ways: It entertains children with high adventure and the kind of crass humor that Hollywood has decided is appropriate for kids. It entertains adults with sophisticated pop culture references and a subtext about the bad politics between Disney and DreamWorks. And there's no denying its animation is astonishing.
A couple of weeks ago here at Film Forum, a gallery of responses to the film were on display. Many critics were dismayed by the lowbrow antics, but found its story a refreshing change from the predictable Disney formulas. Currently at Books and Culture, Eric Metaxas of Big Idea Productions offers a very different view. Metaxas writes for the popular children's video series VeggieTales, some of the funniest and most intelligent entertainment for children and adults you'll find anywhere. He writes, "Shrek doesn't just subvert the treacly Disney version of fairy tales, it subverts the glorious and mysterious and ennobling idea of fairytales themselves." He goes on to list its various offenses. "Shrek is tiresome in its unalleviated puncturing. No sooner does a moment fill with meaning and beauty than you can sense the hatpins poised to prick it." He adds, "Much of this is disturbingly inappropriate ...1