Shrek! is a 2000 American computer-animated comedy film loosely based on the 1990 fairy tale picture book of the same name by William Steig, in which an ogre despised by human society finds his true love. Directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson in their directorial debuts and produced by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, it stars Chris Farley as the title character. The film was originally conceived in traditional animation, then stop motion and motion capture were later tested but gave no satisfactory results, so the producers ultimately decided to make it in CGI.
The film begins with the eccentric witch Dama Fortuna narrating the story of the Kingdom of Duloc. She tells that the king and queen of Duloc were expecting the birth of their daughter, whom they named Fiona. However, after the queen gave birth to a female ogre instead of a girl, they thought they were cursed and decided to lock the infant in a distant tower guarded by a dragon, believing the curse would eventually fade away. They were unsure about what to tell their kingdom, so they decided to lie, declaring that Fiona was "of such rare beauty" that she was kidnapped. As the years passed, the king and queen died and were succeeded by Fiona's brother, the ambitious Farquaad, who wanted to ban all fairy tale creatures from the kingdom in order to turn it into a gigantic shopping complex. Dama Fortuna closes the book telling this story with a gloomy face.
Miles away, in a garbage dump near the isolated and impoverished human village of Wart Creek, an ogre named Shrek lives with his parents, eating eyes and insects and decorating his room with rotting fish. He tells his parents about his interest in traveling the world and meeting new people, especially humans, but his father tells him that that would taunt their ogre heritage, while his mother says that it is an ogre's nature to live in isolation in the middle of trash and dirt and to scare people, and that it would be dangerous and unnatural for him to go looking for something else. Shrek goes on a sad stroll alone, making people on his way scared of him and nauseated with his smell, when he realizes there is an unusual amount of fairy tale creatures around.
Fiona, now a grown-up ogress, decides to finally escape her prison and go back to Duloc. Using her cunning and abilities, she manages to break the iron bars on the window and pass through the Dragon unnoticed. After leaving the abandoned fortress, she reaches a human village where everyone is scared of her. Fiona becomes nervous about this and flees to an enchanted forest where she sees a strange cottage emitting a pink smoke from the chimney. While prying there, Fiona is found by the owner, an elderly gypsy who is revealed to be Dama Fortuna. Fiona apologizes, but Dama Fortuna says that her visit was actually foretold. After Fiona explains that she wants to be a beautiful woman, Dama Fortuna gives her a potion that changes her appearance, but warns about a side effect - Fiona will alternate between her human and ogress forms, every night and day, until she finds her true love.
Meanwhile, Shrek and his family are panicked as Wart Creek and the dumpster are flooded with fairy tale creatures. After Shrek asks the creatures why they are there, Pinocchio answers that they were banished from Duloc and do not have anywhere else to go. Annoyed, Shrek decides to settle this problem by visiting the King of Duloc by himself and demanding that something be done, ignoring his parents' pleas to stay home. Since he does not know the way, Shrek reluctantly allows the talkative Donkey, one of the exiled creatures, to tag along and guide him to Duloc.
When they arrive at Duloc, Shrek and Donkey tell Farquaad's knights they want to talk to the king. The knights laugh and explain that they need to schedule an appointment and wait. However, on Duloc's main square, Farquaad himself begins a public presentation about his plans to transform the entire kingdom into a shopping mall and explains to the townspeople that this is why he banished the creatures. Shrek confronts him, saying that he is furious because Farquaad sent hundreds of creatures to his home, and the two get into a heated argument. Farquaad nearly orders his knights to kill Shrek with crossbows, but they are soon distracted as Princess Fiona, in her human form, arrives the kingdom riding a horse and claiming to be the legitimate heir to the throne. After Fiona tells the townspeople what really happened to her, a riot ensues and Farquaad orders Fiona, Shrek, and Donkey arrested.
In Duloc's dungeons, Shrek is puzzled with the fact that Fiona is not scared or nauseated in his presence, but this is soon explained as the night falls and she is transformed into an ogress. Shrek and Fiona discuss their similarly tragic stories and begin to fall in love with each other. Shrek agrees to help Fiona lead a rebellion against Farquaad, telling her that he knows many other ogres in the dumpster where he lives. Fiona manages to open the prison gates with an improvised lock pick, and the trio discreetly flee Duloc and head to the Wart Creek's dumpster. When they arrive the village the following day, the Dragon that guarded Fiona's tower appears to get her back to her prison. A horde of ogres, including Shrek's parents, manage to scare Dragon away, but Shrek soon realizes Donkey is gone and believes he was eaten by Dragon. Seeing that there is not much time left as Farquaad has probably already noticed their escape and must be furious, Shrek manages to recruit not only the dumpster ogres to their rebellion, but also the Wart Creek townspeople, who are now in good ties with the ogres because they saved them from a giant beast (Dragon), and the fairy tale creatures, who are happy to hear that their native land will be liberated.
That afternoon, Shrek and Fiona's party arrive at Duloc to find the kingdom's entrance walls guarded by a huge army of angry knights, while the kingdom behind it has become a construction site. A large and fierce battle ensues. Shrek's party manages to defeat those initial knights and enter the kingdom, but their numbers are gradually reduced, until only Shrek, Fiona and a few other ogres, villagers, and creatures are cornered on Duloc's main square. Farquaad laughs evilly and declares their defeat. Suddenly, however, Dragon reappears flying in the sky, carrying Donkey on its back, and joins the battle, defeating the remainder of Farquaad's knights. Donkey explains that Dragon is actually female and has fallen in love with him. When Dragon turns to an unguarded Farquaad, the king begs for his life. Shrek's party agree to spare him as long as he gives up his kingdom to Fiona, the legitimate queen, to which he reluctantly agrees.
As the new Queen of Duloc, Fiona lifts the ban on fairy tale creatures and cancels Farquaad's plans, reverting all construction that had already been started. Now a permanent ogress, she marries Shrek and proclaims him her King, while the townspeople of Duloc, the ogres and the fairy tale creatures all cheer, celebrating a new era of union between ogres and humans, and Shrek's parents are finally happy with him. Meanwhile, seeing an opportunity for investment, Farquaad decides to continue his business plans on Wart Creek, turning the place into a pompous town, which elevates the quality of life of the inhabitants and begins attracting tourists and tycoons from kingdoms abroad.
Dama Fortuna concludes the film by saying that Shrek and Fiona lived "horribly ever after".
- Chris Farley as Shrek
- Steve Martin as Donkey
- Janeane Garofalo as Princess Fiona
- Linda Hunt as Dama Fortuna
- Alan Rickman as Lord Farquaad
Shrek! received mixed reviews from both critics and the audience. While some praised the synergy of children's and adult jokes in the movie, others criticized its "lack of enthusiasm and vitality" in some scenes.
In 2002, a direct-to-video sequel entitled Shrek Bigger was released. The producers concluded that the film's poor box office performance did not allow a theatrical sequel.