The Christmas tree isn’t the only thing green in this new holiday classic. Shrek is back and trying to get into the spirit of the season. After promising Fiona and the kids a Christmas they’ll remember, he is forced to take a crash course in the holiday. But just when he thinks he has everything for their quiet family Christmas just right, Donkey, Puss in Boots, Gingy and the rest of the gang decide to crash the party. Shrek the Halls is the greatest holiday tale that’s never been told…until now.
Despite its 22-minute run time, Shrek the Halls
(originally written as a half-hour TV special), is packed with plenty of laughs and holiday cheer. The animation is rich, and the character interplay among all the folks we know and love--Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots--endearing and spot-on. Shrek wants to throw the "perfect Christmas" for Fiona and the kids, but as an ogre, has no Yule experience. So he starts at the local bookstore, where a winsome clerk (voiced by Marissa Jaret Winokur) quickly sizes up Shrek's hapless situation and pronounces: "I know all about Christmas, and I have just the book for you: 'Christmas for Village Idiots.'" Shrek becomes so focused on doing the holiday "by the book" that he fails to notice the magic and comradely chaos unfolding all around him. Fiona, for instance, has some neat tricks for making holiday decorations (watch how she turns a festively striped snake into the perfect candy cane). The kids are happily frolicking with the kids of Donkey and everyone else in the village--but the commotion is too much for Shrek, who snaps. Will his ogrely hissy fit ruin Christmas--and make him overlook the meaning of Christmas that can't be found in a book? Even viewers who might guess the answer will enjoy the trip, including competing versions of "A Visit from St. Nicholas," better known as "The Night Before Christmas." Puss's version: "He was dressed all in fur / From his head to his paws / And he stood there heroic, / A real Santa... Claws." And the film is full of cute references to holiday classics like "It's a Wonderful Life" ("Excuse you for what?" barks Shrek after one of his kids does a dainty Fiona belch knockoff). Even bit players get big laughs, like the three German pigs, ready to have a Christmas Eve sleepover. One points out to his brothers: "Look! We are pigs, ja
we are in a blanket, ja
? It's funny, ja
?" Ja! Warning to parents: There is one scary, almost gruesome scene that involves Santa Claus, but it's over quickly and then the film is back to its funny and heartwarming purpose. Extras include an animated sing-along "Twelve Days of Christmas" featurette as well as several holiday games to keep the tykes engaged after the last present is unwrapped. --A.T. Hurley