Why Shrek remains one of the most enduring animated movies of all time?

A poster of the film (image via DreamWorks)
A poster of the film (Image via DreamWorks)

Shrek is a classic animated film created by Dreamworks Studios which was released in 2001. While animation has progressed leaps and bounds since then, the original movie still stands the test of time.

It was released at a time when Disney was reigning supreme with their animated films such as Toy Story, Mulan, and Cinderella among others. The Dreamworks film broke popular Disney fairytale tropes and introduced a bold new storytelling style.

The film featured a fresh take on fairytales and introduced memorable characters who redefined the world of animation. The star-studded voice cast featuring Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Mike Myers made the film enjoyable for viewers of all ages.

The movie was awarded an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2002 as a testament to its success. This article explores why Shrek remains one of the best-animated films more than two decades after its release.

Disclaimer: This article is subjective and reflects the author's opinions.

Revisiting Shrek: Why it remains one of the best-animated films of all time?

The film offers a unique take on a simple premise

A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)
A still from the film (Image via Universal Pictures)

When Shrek was released in 2001, audiences had never seen a fairytale parody film like it. Shrek's central theme is a parody of the fairytale genre, however, it also contains a deeper commentary within. The fairytale animals are despised by ordinary humans and cast away in the swamp where Shrek resides.

This is a subtle commentary on imperialism, with the movie antagonist, Lord Farquad (John Lithgow), displacing these fairytale creatures after forcing them to register with the government. The unique twist on children's fairytale characters makes this film a delightful treat.

The official synopsis of Shrek reads:

"Shrek goes on a quest to rescue the feisty Princess Fiona with the help of his loveable Donkey and win back the deed to his swamp from scheming Lord Farquaad."

The animation was ahead of its time


Shrek had created some of the most memorable characters that remain evergreen. The character detailing was ahead of its time as it used CGI technology to create realistic 3D models. The bar for animated films was raised due to the excellent work done by the Dreamwork team on the film.

The animators not only created some new characters like the titular green ogre, the donkey, and Lord Farquad. They also recreated classic fairytale characters like the Three Little Piggies, Pinocchio, Blind Mouse, and the Big Bad Wolf.

Great casting choice is one of the major reasons why the film stands the test of time

Mike Myers was an established comic actor with a memorable role in the Austin Powers series of films. He seamlessly fit into the part of Shrek and even improvised the iconic Scottish accent for the character, now a trademark of the ogre.

Joining him was the comedy genius Ed Murphy, who voiced Donkey. Donkey's irritating and funny persona makes him one of the most iconic characters in the film. Cameron Diaz was another great choice to voice the fierce, bold, and elegant Princess Fiona. John Lithgow as Lord Farquaad remains memorable too.

Shrek is a very well-written and funny film that strikes a chord among audiences of all ages


The humor in Shrek is not based on goofy mannerisms or meant to evoke a quick gag. The film is well-written and the comic elements are drawn from several witty pop-culture references. To cite an example, Lord Farquad's shallow nature was wittily showcased when he evaluated possible suitors in a way similar to the show known as The Dating Game. Similarly, Princess Fiona entering the Matrix was a fun nod to the legendary action film.

The film uses innuendos, one-liners, and subtle jokes while sending a positive message. This makes the film a great watch even after more than two decades.

Not all films can stay relevant and rewatchable after so many years of release. However, Shrek is entertaining for people of all ages even today. The resounding success of the first film spurred three more sequels, making for an exciting franchise.

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Edited by DEEPALI
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