Hello again! It's been pretty barren here lately (which I don't personally mind; I kinda like it actually :)), but I thought I'd create a reference for those who are curious about the lore of the movies. More specifically, aspects of Shrek the Musical that cause the entire thing to be considered non-canon to the main series. I understand that some people (for some strange reason) consider some parts of it canon, but one can't deny some glaring flaws that cause the whole thing to be deemed unwatchable.
With that out of the way, here's the list!
- Shrek's parents have not been shown to feel bad for their son once letting him move out. Of course this happened in the book, but he was so ugly that even they didn't want anything to do with him. Thus it made sense for them to kick him out; plus Shrek was at old age and still living with his parents, so of course he's going to be forced to move on with his life. For whatever reason the musical wants to include a new part of this lore with ogres, giving them a "tradition" of sending their young out to the world at age seven. Huh? I thought at that age ogres would try to eat them, not kick them out!
- In the stash of fairytale creatures, there's strange inclusions that I believe help solidify the idea that this entire musical shouldn't be taken as canon.
- A character similar in design to Fairy Godmother is present. This can't be any coincidence that she is nearly identical to her by appearance. Maybe the people writing thought they were clever, but honestly it's just lame. How the hell would she even be here in the first place??
- t's very minor, yes, but in the old version prior to the Broadway version, Humpty Dumpty was included. Okay, I know this was before Puss in Boots was released, but it's still a bit off putting with how he's there. Considering the events of the 2011 film happened long before even the first film, it raises the question of how he came back to life for no reason. But again, this is a very minor nitpick (as with the rest of this list really XD).
- The only cool addition was the Wonderland party, consisting of White Rabbit and Mad Hatter (no I'm not counting Tweedledum and Tweedledee, as they existed before the Alice books). Although the idea as to why they never appeared in the first film to keep this consistent is still beyond me.
- Perhaps the worst inclusion of this bunch of fairytale creautres is Peter Pan. For one, he was seen selling Tinkerbell to the guards in the first film. And all of a sudden he's banished with everyone else? WHY?! He was never sought after then, so why now? Maybe it was just so they can make a crappy reference to the famous scene where Pan breaks the fourth wall in his old play. I have no clue. Oh, and he's apparently in his late 20's. Gee, why not give him a Michael Jackson voice while you're at it!
- While Shrek and Donkey are singing the "Travel Song", they see Puss in Boots. This was likely just another throw away reference to the future installments, but this feels like one of those "special editions" with a tacky edit made to include a tiny indicitation of the next movie. Even so, he's likely gotten the profession of an ogre killer at that point, so it's possible if he even laid eyes on Shrek, he'd try to kill him.
- Dragon speaks... Enough said.,.
- Once Shrek sings his song "Who I'd Be", the lyrics indicate a much different version of the character compared to the film. Naturally the musical's going to make changes with its longer run time and use of songs, but this just goes too far. In the film, Shrek believes himself to be someone capable of being by himself for the rest of his life. However deep down, he just wants people to see past him and appreciate him for being an actual person with feelings. Here however, he goes on about wanting to be renowned as a knight, a writer, or world traveller. It's almost like they wanted to use the original Chris Farley cut instead of sticking to the first film for influence. That is actually were Shrek was going to try and prove his worth by becoming a folk hero instead of simply gaining acceptance. But they should've gone all the way in turning the old film into a really neat alternative take-- something that would show us what Farley's version would've been like. Why not make Shrek's parental conflicts more prominent, giving him a good reason to prove himself worthy as a renowned member of society? How about going for that more dramatic feel the original take was going to embrace? Maybe even not include Fiona at all and replace her with a different princess like before (i.e. Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella)? Of course not. The brand is too well-known to go all out in making a new, fresh take on the story. They could only do so much in order to stick with the first film's narrative so viewers don't get upset. Thus, the playwrights were likely only aiming to change the "little" aspects to make a much bigger difference, creating the illusion of the same story. However what resulted was a confused mess that doesn't even know what it's trying to accomplish.
- What seemed neat initially is that we got to hear Farquaad's backstory. Cool huh? Well no, it's just a lame spoof of "The Princess and the Pea". It's nice that they decided to choose that semi-obscure story to reference, but it only adds more questions to what was well established in the first film. Duloc as a whole was never a kingdom, so throwing in this idea that Farquaad turned the kingdom into a lorship, which doesn't make much sense. The lordsip was shown to have began as a city-state in the first movie, with even the Magic Mirror saying that it wasn't a real kingdom. If anything Farquaad calling Duloc a "kingdom" was a self-proclaimed statement. Adding onto the lore by shoehorning in an excuse to pad out backstories with no thought ruins the fun of a medieval dictatorship that paralleled the behavior of people like Andrew Jackson, Joseph Stallin, and even Napoleon. All rulers who had corrupt ways of thinking of making things perfect by means of rather disgusting methods. Duloc is supposed to represent their views of a great utopia, not another basic kingdom for the Shrek universe.
- Surprsingly everything else about the musical is on point with the basic structure of the first movie, only just much worse in my opinion. However, the lack of the outrageous soundtrack choices just hurts the production for me. Arguably, one of the greatest stand-outs of the original Shrek was the use of licesned songs. Each one helped reflect certain events and themes without being too on the nose. "All-Star" and "Bad Reputation" for instance represents the idea that this is not your average fairytale story-- having booming rock sounds and even curses in the lyrics. And in more calm moments, we have "You Belong to Me" and "My Beloved Monster" to ease the irreverent pacings established before. It helps the film slow down to showcase Shrek's realization that he needed someone to appreciate him, and that he's finaly found that person. Take those songs out and shockingly, the raw emotion is suddenly gone. You have a stage show that tries too hard to be funny, as well as trying too hard to be sentimental with sappy songs that even makes Andrew Loyd Webber cringe. Every song as that extremely forced feeling of "hey be happy" or "get sad!", and it destroys the surprisingly slow pace of the original. And honestly the first film's natural flow made the experience more intriguing, just with how funny and sentimental it can be without being too fast (*cough* Shrek 2 *cough*). Sadly, the musical forgets this and tries to force blend humor and drama in an unfocused package.
Sorry if this has been a very negative list, but I just wanted to let it out. After all, these blog posts are meant for reviews and just letting out your thoughts on media. Part of me kind of wishes I did this more often than my fan stories-- that stuff just killed me back in February and March. Hopefully some people can look at this and make their own agreements and disagreements. And hey, if others can spot more inconsistencies, then I'll be more than happy to add them on here!