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Shrek, a green ogre who loves the solitude in his swamp, finds his life interrupted when many fairytale characters are exiled there by order of the fairytale-hating Lord Farquaad. Shrek tells them that he will go ask Farquaad to send them back. After his swamp is filled with magical creatures, he agrees to rescue a princess for a villainous lord in order to get his land back.
With improbable finesse it buffs up some of the oldest tropes of storytelling and then gives them a mischievous tilt, so that we appear to be watching a celebration of a genre and a sneaky subversion of it at the same time.
Shrek's ability to fit in a number of touching, funny moments says much about the intelligence and wit behind it. It's just a shame that the film is never as clever or as hip as it so desperately feels the need to be.