Shrek is Turning 20 and I'm Losing My Mind
Shrek is turning 20 and I’m losing it. Not because the movie is 20 years old; I try not to be one of those people who is like, “How can this thing be that old? Everything I love and remember should always have come out within the last 4 years.” Time moves forward, grow up! Did you think that someday Shrek wouldn’t be 20 years old? Balderdash!
Anyway, I’m losing my mind because I love Shrek so much in a non-ironic, non-online kind of way. I’m losing my mind because my whole family loves Shrek so much. (I hold a lot of disdain for Disney Adults for someone who knows every single line of Shrek, who knows every single IMDb trivia by heart). I will not get to be around my family for this 20th anniversary, which is reasonable because I didn’t even get to be around my family for Christmas.
(Actually, to be more specific, I’ll be seeing my mom for the first time in 1.5 years this week, but her side of the family doesn’t care about Shrek, and my Shrek side of the family will be back in Missouri).
My family’s love of Shrek started in theatres—I can count on one hand the number of movies I went to see in theatres with them, so that was already special—but continued as my little sister Olivia, who was two when the movie came out, became fully obsessed with the film in the way that only toddlers can. Around the time she turned three, we watched Shrek once a day for months on end. MONTHS. And it still hasn’t gotten old for us.
I’ll be here in LA with my Shrek-non-appreciatior boyfriend—A RIFT, YEAH!—and my non-Shrek side of the family and I’m losing it because who the hell am I going to say lines to like, “Is that you Gordon?”/ “How did you know?” or “That's my TAIL, that's my personal tail, you gonna tear it off!” or “Let’s do that again!” or “Five shillings for the possessed toy” or the entire onion monologue*. Meanwhile, my boyfriend will be doing his standard little joke about how Shrek is canonically “a Gumby.”
The point is, I have no one to force to watch Shrek with me. No one who will actually appreciate the film for its real beauty, like the moment when Fiona pushes the cake topper of Lord Farquaad down in the cake and it comes back up just a little bit. For its lessons on friendship. For the the love story being about loving yourself (CORNY ALERT! But it’s good!!). For its unmatched soundtrack. Seriously, if you ignore the Smash Mouth songs, which is best practice for any music listening experience, the album is perfect. (Unfortunately, it’s hard to find the complete album on streaming, you have to go to Youtube for the songs).
When I was younger, I really thought that I had a lot in common with Shrek. Mostly because I liked being alone all the time and I was overweight so I assumed I was unpopular and disliked, even though I had some friends. I’m not saying I was totally wrong about that assumption, but I will say that I as I’ve grown up I’ve come to realize that I am not Shrek at all, but Donkey: annoying and desperate and a phenomenal friend, but yeah really fucking annoying sometimes.
Anyway, in a few months I’m going to try to see the Shrek-celebrating half of my family and I’m going to make us all watch Shrek and we’re all going to appreciate it for the masterpiece it is.
There is one part of Shrek that I think is just absolutely heartbreaking to watch and not to be a tease, but if you want to read about it, it’s in my book because OF FUCKING COURSE IT IS. You can pre-order my book here, if you’re interested in what I think is one of the saddest, most beautiful moments in cinema and I’m not kidding or being ironic at all.
*My brother-in-law and my boyfriend both have commented on how my family seems to find the weirdest moments on film funny, that we repeat the most obscure non-joke lines. They probably have a point! But that’s how you know who’s a true fan! Anyone can quote the boulder line or the waffles line—the latter was in the trailer. But can you quote the in between stuff? Do you know the exact cadence and intonation of the gingerbread interrogation scene? Do you know who says “Three; pick number three my lord!” You know?
I always enjoy your newsletter but this is one of the best pieces of yours I’ve read.