(2004)4Perry SeibertWhere the original Shrek was stuffed to the breaking point with jokes and bits of business, Shrek 2 has a much more relaxed tone. The most notable improvement this film makes over its predecessor, aside from the sophistication of the animation, is the belief the filmmakers have in the material. To be sure, the jokes are plentiful, but none of them feel as desperate as some of the material in Shrek. The biggest problem with the sequel, though, is that the film just is not funny enough. There are few big laughs in the film because the screenwriters have elected to tell a story that is rather intricate in its emotional deceptions. Where the first film's plot existed so that the endless string of bits could be played out, Shrek 2 actually aims for real poignancy, sentimentality, and character development. Had the filmmakers created characters with more complexity, or figured out how to make the film funnier, they could have topped the original. Instead they have made a film that is on occasion rather dull. Only Eddie Murphy as Donkey and Antonio Banderas as a swashbuckling rogue cat retain the energy of the first Shrek. They get just about all of the best moments, although Rupert Everett hits all the right notes as the very vain and very spoiled Prince Charming. These characters exhibit the best aspects of the anarchic spirit that helped make the first film a blockbuster. Undoubtedly, there will be a third Shrek film, and if they match the comedy of the first with the confidence of the second, DreamWorks will have made the best animated film in its short history.