There’s no denying the endless cultural references and seamlessly constructed soundtrack of Shrek makes it one of the best children’s films ever, there’s also no denying that Shrek 2 exceeds the expectations of a sequel by a mile.
The two films' plots follow a very similar structure. Shrek has been, or feels, shunned by society, nobody wants him and Fiona together. Just on the cusp of everything falling apart they are reunited for the perfect fairytale happy ending featuring lots of animated fairytale characters dancing along to a pop classic. But something about Shrek 2 just does this that little bit better.
On the assumption that you have seen Shrek if you’re watching Shrek 2, by the second film you have grown to love characters like the three blind mice and Pinocchio enough for them to carry their own sub-plots. Unlike the preceding film, Shrek 2 doesn’t only follow the story of Shrek (and Donkey, lets not forget everyone’s favourite character).
This stunning sequel also features the introduction of some of people’s favourite Shrek characters who were absent from the first film. There’s Puss in Boots, who was such a good character they even gifted him his very own spin-off film, as well as the evil yet enticing fairy godmother (voiced by Jennifer Saunders) who sings what is without a doubt the best rendition of Holding Out for a Hero you’ll ever hear.
That’s another of the undeniably brilliant things about Shrek 2 - the soundtrack. Yes, All Star by Smash Mouth is one of the best moments of the first film, but whereas the rest of the original’s soundtrack is somewhat lacking, Shrek 2 is just banger after banger, and I continue to unashamedly listen to it pretty much every day.
As a child, I never watched fairytale films. I know not of Disney princesses and believe I am better off without being exposed to their patriarchal plots and over-jolly songs. But Shrek 2 gives you every fairytale story you could wish for, along with fantastic songs and jokes that are equally enjoyable for adults and kids (hence why over a decade after first watching it, it remains one of my favourite films). It’s the whole package, and I’ll fight anyone who tries to tell me it’s not the best Shrek film going.