Rating: PG
Run Time: 90 minutes
Released: 2001
Director: Andrew Adamson, Vicky Jenson

Cultural Rating: pawpaw

The film does an excellent job of challenging traditional notions of body image, body ideals, and beauty ideals, but does very little to engage with gender roles, racial diversity, disability, and sexual orientation.


To reclaim the swamp, Shrek and Donkey embark on a journey to save Princess Fiona.


Language: poo

  • Adult-themed innuendos
  • Threatening and demeaning language- “idiot,” “ass,” “pathetic,” “useless,” “stupid,” “ugly”

Violence: poo

  • Fighting- throwing, kicking, punching
  • Weapons- swords, bow and arrow

Sex: poo

  • Minimal sexual content- kissing

Drugs and Alcohol: poo

  • Shrek drinks a pint of beer.
  • Lord Farquaad drinks a martini.

Cultural Analysis




  • Fiona, a female character, challenges traditional gender roles regarding femininity. Fiona is depicted as very active (she is a skilled fighter), and she is intelligent.
  • Fiona also challenges traditional beauty ideals. For example, she chooses to be an ogre instead of a human, and, once an ogre, Shrek tells her she is beautiful.
  • The Big Bad Wolf, a masculine character, dresses in feminine clothing. This is progressive because portrayals of cross-dressing in the media are usually depicted as comedic.

Race– N/A

Sexual Orientation– N/A

Disability– N/A


  • Shrek is grotesque (fat-bodied, farts, burps, bathes in mud), but he is depicted as a “good” character. At one point, Shrek talks about how others judge him by how he looks and how one’s looks do not determine their value. This is important because many male leads conform to traditional gender and body ideals. Further, the depiction of Shrek as a kind hearted, sensitive grotesque challenges the notions that outside appearance is indicative of moral character.



  • Princess Fiona is placed in the tower of a castle to be saved by her “true love.” This reinforces the damsel in distress trope in which a helpless woman needs to be saved by her traditionally masculine true love.
  • The male gaze is present in the film.


  • There are no major or minor characters of color.

Sexual Orientation



  • Even though Shrek comes to accept his body at the end of the film, the word “ogre” is still used as an insult. Additionally, the grotesqueness of Shrek is used for comical purposes.
  • Lord Farquaad is very short and is depicted as evil and greedy. This is problematic because most films mark the villain in some way (whether it is with scars, visible disabilities, or aberrant body types).

Suggested talking points

  • A common theme in films is romantic love between a man and a woman. This can be problematic on two levels, as romantic love is depicted as necessary for happiness and also as heterosexuality is a prerequisite for romantic love.
  • Many children’s films also perpetuate princess culture. Most of the women in these films maintain no real life occupation and are only complete when they fall in love.
  • The film suggests that inner beauty is more important than outer beauty. We shouldn’t judge or treat people differently because of how they look.


Keywords: shrek, movie, review, gender, body, animated, family, kids, gender roles, dreamworks

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