Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Lessons for Kids in Shrek

Shrek is a movie about an Ogre who lives by himself in a swamp. He is ostracized by the people who live near him due to the fact that he is a big, ugly, green creature. One day, Shrek comes back to his swamp to find hundreds of magical creatures, exiled there by Lord Farquad. Shrek is furious and demands his swamp back to himself. Lord Farquad tells him the only way this will happen is if he rescues the beautiful Princess Fiona, and brings her back to his kingdom. Shrek and his sidekick, Donkey, set off to find the princess, and when they do, something unexpected happens. Shrek and Fiona begin to fall in love. They eventually return to Lord Farquad’s kingdom, and Fiona leaves before Shrek is able to confess his love for her. Right before Fiona and Lord Farquad’s marriage, Shrek crashes the wedding and confesses his love for Fiona. She unexpectedly turns into an Ogre, just like Shrek. Lord Farquad is appalled, but he is eaten by a dragon quickly after her transformation. Shrek and Fiona then fall in love with each other and live happily ever after. There are many takeaways, both positive and negative, from Shrek. One of the negative messages portrayed in the film is that it is okay to talk disrespectfully or make fun of people because there will not be any repercussions. This is an extremely strong idea that is very clearly displayed in the film. With that being said, the positive message of the necessity to learn about a person before making an assumption about them is something people will much more likely remember from the movie.       
            The negative message that there are no consequences for making fun of other people or be mean to other people is not a good message to share with children. Kids might possibly talk rudely to their parents thinking it is okay because Shrek was doing it, or they might make fun of somebody with a disability at school because they saw the same thing happen in Shrek. There are many instances where such situations are shown in the movie. First and foremost, Shrek is constantly rude to Donkey. There are scenes where Shrek calls Donkey a “useless, annoying, pathetic, talking donkey.” In this small clip, he is taking out all his frustrations on Donkey, and he is unnecessarily mean to him in doing so. Young children will take away that this is the proper way to handle anger. Additionally, there are countless jokes directed to Lord Farquad because of his height. In a movie where the central theme is to not judge people based on their appearance, these jokes are hypocritical to the rest of the movie. More often than not, the jokes about Lord Farquad are made to make people laugh. Shrek and Donkey made remarks such as, “Men of Farquad’s stature are in ‘short’ supply,” or “there are those that think ‘little of him’.” Children will see Shrek and Donkey laughing and believe that the only way to make people laugh is to make fun of someone.

            On the flip side, the film does a great job of portraying the message of not judging people based on their appearance. The filmmaker’s goal was to try and depict that even though Shrek is an ugly, green creature, he can have redeeming qualities about him. There are numerous examples where the audience sees the positive qualities of Shrek. One trait that stands out is his sense of humor. There are several scenes where Shrek cracks a joke or makes a funny statement that draws a laugh from the crowd. Another trait is Shrek’s generally likeable personality. The audience sees this displayed in the part of the film when Shrek and Fiona begin to like each other and fall in love. He is kind, funny, and a gentleman toward Fiona. Eventually, Fiona falls in love with him because of all the positive traits he is displaying toward her. Kids will see this and hopefully believe that unexpected people can be their friend if they are nice and get to know them away from what is displayed on the outside.

            Overall, Shrek is a great movie for kids. There are a number of life lessons that kids will pick up on, but it is also a really funny movie with a great storyline. As I have previously stated, while there are some negative messages that are pretty blatant, I believe that the positive messages are much stronger in the sense that they will be much more memorable to the audience leaving the film. With that being said, I believe this film deserves four stars out of five.

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