Run Time: 93 minutes
Director: Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury, Conrad Vernon
The film does an excellent job of challenging popular notions regarding body image, body ideals, and beauty ideals but does very little to engage with gender roles, racial diversity, disability, and sexual orientation.
Things quickly go awry when Princess Fiona’s parents meet her new husband, an ogre.
- Demeaning language- “rascally devil,” “monster,” “drama queen,” “fool,” “brute,” “lose your nuts,” “stupid,” “bloody,” “ass”
- Threatening language- threats to neuter and decapitate
- Weapons- pitchforks, knife, axe, sword, crossbow and arrow, guns
- Wand fighting
- Characters are chained up
- Multiple sexual innuendos
- Women grope Shrek when he is handsome
- Alcohol consumption
- Mention of champagne
- Police officers find a small baggie of catnip on Puss in Boots and sniff the baggie as if it were drugs.
- Wolf is a minor character that challenges traditional gender roles regarding masculinity. The Wolf is male but wears women’s clothing (cross-dresses) throughout the entire film.
- The few times that Fiona is active, she is depicted as a skilled fighter. Oftentimes, women are depicted as passive bystanders in the media.
- Fiona chooses to become an ogre and is still considered beautiful in the film. This is important to note because most of contemporary media only portrays and promotes one idea of beauty regarding females that reinforces notions of traditional gender roles regarding femininity (slender, no body hair, delicate, passive).
- Prince Charming’s character pokes fun at traditional ideal masculinity. For example, Prince Charming is attractive, rich, and tough, but he is also whiny, selfish, and overall un-likeable.
- Although there are no major or minor characters of color, Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) has Latino signifiers. For example, he has an accent and at times he speaks in Spanish. Overall, he is depicted as a good character.
Sexual Orientation: N/A
- A few minor characters with visible disabilities are shown in crowd settings. For example, a man with a hook for a hand plays piano in a bar and the Three Blind Mice help Shrek escape. The disabilities do not dictate the morality of the characters.
- There are a variety of body types shown in the film.
- Shrek is a lead character and challenges male body ideals. For example, he is fat-bodied and grotesque (farts, burps, lives in a swamp, etc.) but is still found attractive by his wife, Fiona. This is important because many male leads conform to male body and beauty ideals (strong, attractive) and leave little space for other body types in film.
- Fiona challenges female body ideals. For example, at the end of the film Fiona chooses to become an ogre instead of staying a traditionally beautiful human. Additionally, as an ogre, Fiona burps, farts, and even shaves her face. This is important because most female leads (especially princesses) conform to traditional gender roles regarding femininity and beauty ideals.
- Fairy Godmother called Wolf “gender confused” because Wolf is a male character that wears women’s clothing and Pinocchio is laughed at for wearing women’s underwear. This is problematic because cross-dressing is often used for comedic purposes in the media.
- Fiona mostly conforms to traditional gender roles regarding femininity. For example, Fiona is rarely shown outside of the castle (passive) and needs to be saved by Shrek (damsel in distress trope).
- There are no major or minor characters of color.
- There are no variations of sexual orientation.
- No major characters appear to have a visible disability.
- Even though Shrek and Fiona come to accept their ogre bodies at the end of the film, the word “ogre” (used by Shrek, Fiona, and other major and minor characters) is used as an insult. Additionally, the grotesqueness of Shrek (who is an ogre) is used for comical purposes. For example, Shrek scratches his behind, picks a wedgie, has no manners, etc.
- The Ugly Stepsister is depicted as ugly because she is more masculine than feminine (she has a deep voice and some facial hair).
Suggested talking points
- After Shrek takes a potion to make him “more handsome” (“cute button nose,” “thick, wavy locks,” and a “taught, round buttocks”), he starts receiving positive attention from other major and minor characters—people are friendly, wave at him, and women want to be with him—even though he still has the same personality he had before he became “handsome.”
- Prince Charming is initially depicted as the classical prince charming trope but ends up being one of the villains. This is challenging the notion that attractiveness is indicative of moral character.
- Although the film only depicts heterosexual romantic love, one of the main messages in the film is to love a person for their inner beauty and not their outer beauty.
- Princess Fiona chooses to become an ogre. This is important because depictions of princesses in films usually only allow one type of princess (one who is thin but curvy, has perfect skin, no body hair, etc.).
Keywords: shrek, body, grotesque, movie, fantasy, review, princess fiona, 3 paws, three paws, dreamworks, animation, ogre