Self-Esteem and Body Image
Room for Improvement:
Gender Roles – Women
Gender Roles – Men
Self-Esteem and Body Image: 5 Stars (Spoilers)
During the first film, Fiona learned to accept herself as an ogre and recognized that Shrek loved her for who she was. In the sequel, Fiona takes this lesson a step further, teaching us that not only is it okay to be an ogre instead of a beautiful princess, but sometimes, it’s even preferred. In Shrek 2, Fiona teaches Shrek the valuable lesson she learned the first time around, that she loves him for who he is and it’s time he learned to be comfortable in his own skin. The film ends with Fiona choosing for her and Shrek to turn back into ogres - rather than keeping the beautiful bodies and faces created by the Fairy Godmother’s potion
Love: 4 Stars
Shrek and Fiona have a special and distinct love story, despite their mean-spirited arguments. Shrek sharply tells Fiona that he’s rude and uncouth and that he doesn’t intend to change. But when Fiona reminds him of all that she’s given up for him, the message clearly sinks in. He takes drastic steps to become something that he thinks she wants, even if it means giving up being an ogre forever. It’s unfortunate that Shrek isn’t able to simply tell Fiona how he feels in words - and that he never apologizes for his harsh words or has a caring discussion with her about what she wants or how he can be a better husband. But it’s still a rare thing to see a fairy tale in which the hero offers to make such a drastic change for the princess, versus the other way around.
Gender Roles - Women: 2 Stars
Much like the first film, Princess Fiona doesn’t display much independence or grit. She puts her foot down at the beginning of the film, insisting that Shrek come with her to meet her parents, but she doesn’t show much spirit beyond this. She takes a fairly passive role in the argument between Shrek and her father, never truly attempting to bring them together. She eventually agrees to simply go back to the swamp because Shrek has disappeared, apparently giving up on the idea that she can have both, her parents and her husband.
Gender Roles - Men: 3 Stars
Shrek doesn’t display the same sensitivity that he showed in the original film. He is boorish and stubborn when he speaks to Fiona and remains this way throughout most of the film. While it’s understood that much of this coarseness is the result of the same fears and anxieties that plagued him in the first film, we don’t see the same heartfelt conversations or the same sense of hurt in Shrek 2. He does eventually convince us how much he loves Fiona, but the majority of his interactions with her come across as selfish and rude.
Plot: 2 Stars (Spoilers)
While the story begins with a long journey to meet Fiona’s parents, the film doesn’t explore Fiona’s struggle to re-bond with her parents. To the contrary, the film is focused on Shrek’s struggle to gain their acceptance and to turn himself into someone that Fiona can be proud of. Shrek makes the bold decision to take a potion that will turn them both human without even consulting her. She doesn't have the chance to change his mind or take on Prince Charming and the Fairy Godmother herself. Her only real moment of influence is at the end, when she makes the decision to undo the spell, returning them to their proper forms.
Character Development: 2 Stars
Fiona has even less personality and growth in Shrek 2 than she had in the original film. She appears to be content and comfortable with her new life as an ogre, and yet we don't get a full taste of how she feels when she wakes up one morning to find that she is suddenly human and beautiful again. We have no way of telling whether she is happy, disappointed, conflicted or confused to see that familiar face and shape staring back at her from her childhood mirror.
Fiona's pivotal moment in this film is her final decision to remain an ogre, despite the promise of being human and beautiful again. This moment could have meant so much more if we had a better sense of why she makes such an odd and uncommon decision. Since we aren't given much background explaining what it is that Fiona loves about being an ogre, we’re left with the impression that she gives up everything in order to please Shrek, and not really for herself at all.
Family: 1 Stars
Fiona’s family dynamic is heavy with gender stereotypes. It’s clear that her father is the decision-maker and that he has specific expectations for his daughter. He does come around at the end, but it would help if the film contained more interactions between Fiona and her father and she was able to play a larger part in convincing him to support her decisions. Fiona’s mother, by contrast, remains supportive and caring, but unfortunately, she’s reduced to little more than a friendly voice without much power.
Friendship: 2 Stars
Shrek’s friendships with Donkey and the other fairy tale creatures aren't given any serious context. Donkey spends some time trying to convince Shrek not to drink the magic potion, but Shrek ignores him without conversation. They never have a heart to heart talk like they did in the original film and for the most part, the relationship comes across as one-sided and without much depth.