For all the corny potshots that Dreamworks takes at Disney in Shrek 2, they’re hard at work exploiting their own set of rapidly tiring cliches, an approach that eventually steered Disney’s reputation for creativity straight into the ground. I know it made lots of money and that the kids love green ogres (and green ogre Happy Meals), but the movie just wasn’t very good (apart from some Puss in Boots moments). Animation aside (are we done judging CG-heavy films largely by how cool they look yet?), Shrek 2 was just another lame romantic comedy with big name stars and barely funny pop culture references; it couldn’t have taken any more than 15-20 minutes to write the screenplay. Anthony Lane noted something similar in his review of The Incredibles and was spot on:
[Brad Bird] has bothered to think through the impact of his outlandish designs, whereas one of the depressing things about a big summer hit like “Shrek 2” was that it nodded at other recent movies, and commercial fads, purely on the ground that they were recent and would thus grab a temporary laugh. The “Shrek” pictures, like “Shark Tale,” will date fast, eaten by the rust of their own cynicism, while “The Incredibles,” silly as it is, retains just enough innocence to suggest that it might hang around.