It's been 20 years and Shrek is still one of the greatest films ever made

18 May 2021, 16:39 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 17:15

By Emma Clarke

The DreamWorks animation starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy was first released back in 2001.

Ask any Millennial what the best movie of all-time is and they will tell you it's Shrek (probably).

In fact, the only other movie that could possibly steal that crown is the second film in the franchise, which is widely accepted as a modern masterpiece.

Following the green ogre's quest to get his swamp back after Lord Farquaad dumped a load of fairytale creatures on his land, the animated movie not only includes witty one-liners and unforgettable quotes, it really pulls at the heart-strings with its will-they-won't-they plotline.

Shrek won the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, and it has an impressive rating of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

So, what's responsible for the movie's enduring popularity? Here are some of the most iconic Shrek moments - and why it's stood the test of time.

READ MORE: Shrek fans defend the movie after viral article calls it "terrible, unfunny and overrated"

Shrek at 20: How the iconic Dreamworks animation has stood the test of time
Shrek at 20: How the iconic Dreamworks animation has stood the test of time. Picture: DreamWorks

1) The life-like animation.

I remember watching Shrek as a kid and being in awe of just how "real" the animation looked (yes, I'm aware it's about an ogre and a talking donkey).

Considering up until that point we were accustomed to 2D sketches and rudimentary pictures, it truly was mind-blowing how the artists captured everything from facial expressions to movement. It also conjures up an atmosphere unique to DreamWorks movies.

Even to this day, the animation is faultless and a thing of beauty.


2) "And in the morning, I'm making waffles!"

Not to state the obvious, but Shrek introduced us to Donkey, a.k.a. one of the best comedic characters going.

Serving up endless quotes and jokes – for both young and old – this noble steed will forever hold a place in our hearts.


3) It includes one of the biggest character arcs EVER.

When Shrek said "ogres are like onions" he wasn't lying, because this dude has so many layers to him and we see a real transformation over the course of the movie.

He goes from an outsider who's learned to depend on just himself, to a best friend and lover who learns to put others' needs before his.


4) "Not the gumdrop buttons!"

As fans will know, in an attempt to extract information about fairytale fugitives, Lord Farquaad interrogates Gingy, a loveable gingerbread man.

After snapping off Gingy's legs, Farquaad goes to remove one of the purple sweets from Gingy's chest, before the sweet treat cries out: "Not the gumdrop buttons!"

He then goes on to spill all about the so-called Muffin Man, who lives on Drury Lane. This scene alone deserves an Oscar, tbh.


5) Princess Fiona's vocal battle with a bird.

Taking the mick out of classic fairytale tropes, Princess Fiona sings sweetly as she wanders through the forest.

When she comes across a bird perched on a tree branch, they form a call and response duet...until the bird blows up, of course.

This moment is not only seriously funny, it's unexpected.


6) Monsieur Hood and his Merry Men.

Rather than stealing from the rich to give to the poor, Monsieur Hood is depicted as a sleaze who is only after one thing: Princess Fiona.

Our girl is having none of it, though, as she karate chops Hood and his Merry Men into a heap on the floor.

Monsieur Hood and his Merry Men from Shrek
Monsieur Hood and his Merry Men from Shrek. Picture: DreamWorks

7) 'Welcome to Duloc'

I'll just leave this here...

8) The witty references.

In addition to textual references to Snow White and other classic fairytales, Shrek mimics iconic scenes from Spider-Man, The Matrix, Jurassic Park, Babe and more.

Donkey also switches up the slogan for George Foreman grills to apply to himself and Shrek. It's beyond genius!


9) Fiona is feminist AF.

Okay, so beyond being trapped in a tower and believing the curse can only be broken by "true love's first kiss", Fiona is an absolute badass that proves time and again that she doesn't need saving.

Firstly, she is a developed character in her own right, who not only plays a crucial role in the plot, but also has her own views and opinions on things.

Beyond that, she dispels the notion that women need to be saved by men - from defending herself against Monsieur Hood and his Merry Men, to standing up for herself when people deem her as weak or a bargaining chip.

The fact she chooses to remain an ogre also helps combat impossible standards of beauty. She opts for happiness over society's view of what a princess should like - which is beyond refreshing.


10) It teaches kids the real value of love and not to judge appearances.

Ultimately, Shrek is all about acceptance and celebrating differences.

The ogre has to learn to tolerate his new fairytale guests; Lord Farquaad gets eaten by a dragon because he is divisive and cruel to others; Princess Fiona not only falls in love with Shrek, but learns to love herself, regardless of how she looks; the dragon isn't really all that bad, she's just misunderstood; and Donkey shares an unconventional love with Elizabeth once he discovers her sweeter side.

What's not to love about that?

Shrek is available to stream on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and NOW.