Eddie Murphy portrays real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon. (IMDb)
Moore’s exuberance, creativity, and determination as a true and crude man of the people carried his career through any and all obstacles–and through Murphy’s excellent portrayal it carries this film too, with its biggest obstacle being the script’s failure to dwell on any of the obstacles in Moore’s trajectory to the top. So the journey’s a little too light and breezy, but like Moore’s crew you just can’t help but get caught up in the scandalous and silly fun of it all (see the sex scene shoot).
An extremely pampered African Prince travels to Queens, New York, and goes undercover to find a wife that he can respect for her intelligence and will. (IMDb)
Probably could’ve cut a half hour of its runtime without losing anything; it’s strangely slow-paced for a comedy so it feels long and its humour lacks a certain bite (the hilarious bickering barber shop trio aside of course). Akeem’s perma-grin naivety brings some charm to the proceedings, the blatant female exploitation takes some away, and after that we’re left with a not bad, but bland offering of romance and a fish-out-of-water plot (with an occasionally careless rich vs. poor commentary).
When a group of hard-working guys find out they’ve fallen victim to their wealthy employer’s Ponzi scheme, they conspire to rob his high-rise residence. (IMDb)
Why would they have to sneak past the very hotel workers that they plan to give the spoils of the job to? This and many other plot holes riddle this half-assed heist flick, so while the vicarious pleasure of Robin Hood-esque stealing is still there (see when Mr. Malloy sees his car is missing) it never lasts for long (surely a car made of gold would be too heavy for an elevator). Mediocre characters and scant humour (Murphy’s wild Slide is probably the highlight) don’t do much to help.
Rumpelstiltskin tricks a mid-life crisis burdened Shrek into allowing himself to be erased from existence and cast in a dark alternate timeline where Rumpel rules supreme. (IMDb)
Props for finding yet another way to twist some conflict out of the happy ending from the first one with a cool Back to the Future-esque alternative timeline premise, though it ultimately did Shrek’s intriguing initial inner struggles a disservice. Besides a decent story, however, there’s little to appreciate: The new characters fail to charm (Rumpel is just annoying) and aside from a few more one-liners from Donkey (“I go down smooth, but I come out fighting!”) there isn’t much to laugh at.
When his new father-in-law, King Harold falls ill, Shrek is looked at as the heir to the land of Far, Far Away. Not one to give up his beloved swamp, Shrek recruits his friends Donkey and Puss in Boots to install the rebellious Artie as the new king. Princess Fiona, however, rallies a band of royal girlfriends to fend off a coup d’etat by the jilted Prince Charming. (IMDb)
With a lazily conceived and executed and generally suspense-less plot, the onus is all on the comedy here, and while it’s not always on point (the potty humour and baby schtick don’t stick) there’s enough goofy slapstick (I couldn’t help but lol at the Shrek as mascot bit) and creative meta-humour (see Marlin’s forced sentimentality) to keep it watchable. A subversive play on the damsel in distress trope and a surprising and funny (if over-simplified) reconciliatory ending are other positives.
Princess Fiona’s parents invite her and Shrek to dinner to celebrate her marriage. If only they knew the newlyweds were both ogres. (IMDb)
The fart jokes and pop song performances feel a little stale this time around, but there’s still plenty of chuckles to be had in the sly one-liners (“You still look like an ass to me”), the dramatic Donkey (“I’m melting!”; “I am trotting!”), and cutesy medieval-modern culture mash-ups (see the Medieval drive-thru). The story is a little simplistic but presents with frankness the mature themes of identity and insecurity as they relate to the central couple. Stay tuned for Waits’ musical cameo.
After his swamp is filled with magical creatures, an ogre agrees to rescue a princess for a villainous lord in order to get his land back. (IMDb)
Myers’ and Murphy’s Shrek and Donkey make up an instantly classic odd couple at the heart of this enjoyable animated adventure; their hilariously contrasting personalities add plenty of humour to an already fun journey-plot full of great tunes and imaginative extrapolations on well-known fairy tale characters and premises. Diaz is also great as the feisty Fiona central to the film’s touching twist on the typical prince/princess story. There’s lots to love in this cleverly written family flick.
7.5/10 (Really Good)