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Eric Metaxas

Shrek: Happily Ever Ogre

An anti-fairy tale run amuck.

When Disney's Pocahantas opened in 1995, the New York Times Magazine published a parody titled "Mohandas." Pocahantas was typical Disney fare, bleached and sugary, so "Mohandas" pretended to review a similarly Disneyfied animated life of Gandhi, complete with treacly coming-of-age ballads ("The Man in the Diaper"), hyper-idealized historical characters (Disney's Gandhi looked like Mr. Clean and was voiced by Michael Jackson), and fictional sidekicks (a sassy cow voiced by Whoopi Goldberg, and an animated spinning wheel voiced by Jackie Mason.)[1]

But one part of the parody was pure invented silliness, suggesting that the villain in the fictitious Mohandas looked suspiciously like Jeff Katzenberg, the former Disney animation executive whom Michael Eisner had famously overlooked for the Number Two job—and who had therefore huffed off to found Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. There wasn't anything in Pocahantas that actually referred to this famous rivalry, especially since it was only just budding, and no media executive could be that petty anyway, right? Wrong. For—lo and behold!—six years later the bud hath flowered and hath borne rivalrous fruit in Dreamworks' Shrek—so taste and eat, and you will be as entertainment insiders, knowing both good and evil industry gossip, whether you care to or don't.

Let me explain. Shrek is Dreamworks' latest salvo in the bloody popcorn wars it wages with Disney, its only current rival in the feature animation industry. Loosely based on a book by William Steig, it is a twisted fairy tale about a green ogre, the eponymous Shrek (Scottishly voiced by Mike Myers), who dwells in a swamp, happily alone, until the evil Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) chases all of the other fairy-tale creatures—from Snow White to various witches and unicorns—into Shrek's swamp. Shrek cuts a deal with Farquaad: If he can rescue the lovely Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) from her dragon-protected castle and deliver ...

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