Approximately thirty minutes of pure, Shrek-tastic Christmas delight, this short starts in typical Shrek film franchise glory: Shrek and his babies enjoying a mud bath — what more could a girl ask for?
Fair warning, this short lacks all meaning if you have not seen (at minimum) the original Shrek (2001). Please, I beg of you, before proceeding, watch Shrek if you have not already had the pleasure of experiencing this piece of early-2000s cinematic excellence.
A lifelong Shrek fan, I had, by some chance, not yet watched this short. I’d describe Shrek the Halls (2007) as eclectic and cozy, atypically capturing all the elements of an ideal family Christmas. An avid Christmas-movie consumer myself, I cannot help but appreciate this adaptation of the “grouchy-dude-discovers-true-meaning-of-Christmas” trope. After a semi-perilous journey in hopes of creating ‘The Perfect Christmas’ for himself and his family, Shrek’s understanding of Christmas is put to the test by the appearance of some unexpected guests, A.K.A our beloved original cast of Shrek characters.
This movie will appeal to all ages: ogre-typical fart jokes for the five-year old, hidden details like the bookstore titled “Canterbury Books” (wow, a Chaucer reference, how fun) and witty banter. “You better be good? How ‘bout you better be scarce?” is such an impeccably crafted insult! Maybe some unintentional romanticism of my childhood taints this review, but Shrek and Dreamworks never disappoint.
Taking a moment to consider the introductory moments of the short, the artful depiction of differing seasons by the Dreamwork animators is whimsical, yet grounded in reality. If I was a cartoon character, I’d love to sink into the wonderfully cushiony snow adorning the roof of Shrek’s swamp home.
Moving on to the actual plot, this short does a great job of condensing itself into a mere half hour, and the music-backed montages and time/setting jumps are engaging and never confusing. The hodgepodge of different genre tropes is hilarious, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching Shrek take on the role of the hero, questing to acquire the instructions to create a perfect Christmas. I also equally loved seeing Shrek spend some wholesome time with his little ogre family.
But, it seems not even Shrek can have a perfect Christmas. From laughing at the fitting retellings of the classic tale The Night Before Christmas from Donkey, Puss in Boots and Gingy, to relating to Shrek, hiding from his own party just a little too much, Shrek the Halls offers up a combination of comedy and creativity — a pairing as complementary as hot chocolate and marshmallows.
But not only is Shrek the Halls comedic, it offers a message. In a surprisingly thoughtful moment, Shrek reconciles with his friends and discovers, backed by a beautifully animated moonlit forest, that the true meaning of Christmas is spending time with his friends and family, no matter how seemingly problematic they may be. Unexpectedly touching, this short turns out to be feel-good and amusing. Certainly a good use of half an hour at 11pm on a Sunday night. I mean, it has both “O Fortuna” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
No matter who you call family or who you’re with, I most certainly encourage you to consider Shrekin’ your halls while you’re deckin’ your halls, for some good laughs this holiday season.