Oscars 2005
Green Ogre and Guilt
Courtesy of DreamWorks Pictures
Alia Quart Khan · February 27, 2005 | Cinephilia used to be an exclusive club. Now with IMDb, DVDs and blogging anyone can join. Heck, I got my Master's writing about soap operas. What was it Groucho Marx said about any club that would have him as a member?

In the course of my media studies, I developed a condition whereby I can't say I like a film, "Just because." An intellectual justification is required and there is the associated pressure that it better be original and well thought-out. This is where I think my complex is rooted and it reared its ugly head again when I was asked to write about Shrek 2.

We are nearing the one-year mark since Shrek 2 was released, and until a few days ago, I felt no guilt in saying to film buffs and neophytes alike, that I thoroughly enjoyed both instalments of the tales of the green ogre and his princess. I am now faced with the uncomfortably familiar feeling of guilt: the gift that just keeps on giving. Was I too quick to praise? Do films like Shrek 2 simply flatter inflated film egos? 

Pop culture cleverness is something I value in my friends, foes and most importantly in my media. So when Shrek 2 started dishing out references to Lord of the Rings and Mission Impossible, John Cleese, Jennifer Saunders and Joan Rivers, I was a happy camper. I am now calling into question that validity of that enjoyment.

Shrek 2
DreamWorks SKG, 2004
Directed by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
92 minutes

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I am one of those—insert the word of your choice—nerds/dorks/geeks who can easily spend an hour or two on IMDb without batting an eyelash. In fact, I have been known to go so far as claim it as research. Who knows, maybe one day it will come in handy during a conversation for me to be able to slip in that before his character's final speech at the end of The Matrix, Keanu Reeves never had more than five sentences in a row to speak. Perhaps not.

I am starting to believe, however, that I am far from alone in my guilty cinephiliac pleasures. More films and television shows are cluing in to this market of cinema-savvy viewers, but a delicate balance needs to be struck to make sure that our media continues to strive for intellectually stimulating innovative forms of entertainment.

Shark Tale recently followed in the footsteps of Shrek 2, but failed to offer anything new to the genre. Whereas Shrek 2 proved to be a viable sequel, Shark Tale screamed sloppy copy. Shark Tale was overly pre-packaged, from the "in" actors lending their voices to the project, the commercial artists participating in the soundtrack and the insertion of unimaginative pop culture references, like GUP instead of GAP.

In a time when countless seasons of Survivor, American Idol and The Amazing Race have flooded the primetime slots, one really shouldn't be all that surprised that DreamWorks would want to cash in on a successful formula. Shrek 2 managed a major feat by intelligently flattering my film ego without making it feel contrived. Shrek 2 appealed to the inner nerd and I want to let her have this one: I barely let her speak out loud as it is.
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