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"Shrek the Halls" puts the fun back into dysfunctional family gatherings

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"Shrek the Halls" puts the fun back into dysfunctional family gatherings

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Are you tired of tearing up when George Bailey finds Zuzu's petals in his pocket? Or reaching for a Kleenex whenever that doll on the Island of Misfit Toys says "I don't have any dreams left to dream"?

Well, if that's true ... Then have I got a Christmas present for all you Grinches out there. DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek the Halls" is a sweet if somewhat subversive holiday treat. In that this new ABC special celebrates the more aggravating aspects of the Christmas season.

Picking up where "Shrek the Third" left off (i.e. With Shrek & Fiona back at home in the swamp with their new triplets), "Shrek the Halls" opens with everyone's favorite ogre enjoying a bright sunny summer afternoon with his kids. But soon this fun family moment is spoiled as Donkey pops up to remind Shrek that " ... there are only 159 days left 'til Christmas."

Though the ogre repeatedly brushes off this annoying ass, Donkey continues to drop by the swamp with his seasonal reminders ("Only 51 days left 'til Christmas. So you'd better get your big green butt in gear and go get your marshmallows. Because everybody knows that -- without marshmallows -- sweet potatoes are nothing"). But then suddenly it's December 23rd. And as Shrek stands in the snow telling Donkey that " ... No one here gives a hoot about Christmas," Fiona carries the kids outside, sees all the falling flakes and says "A white Christmas. Oh, how perfect. And it's our first one together as a family."

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

It's at this exact moment that Shrek realizes that he has to do something about the holidays or risk disappointing Fiona. But since this ogre knows absolutely nothing about trimming the stockings, hanging the chestnuts or roasting the tree ... Shrek has to race to a nearby village and quickly pick up a copy of that handy-dandy holiday guide, "Christmas for Village Idiots."

 Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

From there ... Shrek does the best he can at cobbling together a quickie Christmas celebration. Which starts off with the ogre turning objects that he's found in the forest into holiday decorations for the house.

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

And Fiona ... Well, she understands what her husband is trying to do here (i.e. Deliver a perfect first Christmas for the kids). Which is why Fiona tries to politely dissuade Donkey from dropping by the house on Christmas Eve. So that she & Shrek can then enjoy " ... a nice family Christmas."

But Donkey -- as always -- misinterprets what he's been told. So that night -- as Shrek, Fiona and the kids settle in by the fire, where the ogre now plans on telling his new family the perfect Christmas story -- ...

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

... Who comes busting through the door but Donkey ... Followed by Puss in Boots, Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, the Big Bad Wolf and the Gingerbread Man. Not to mention Donkey's wife, the dragon and their three fire-breathing children.

Within seconds, the house is a complete shambles. With Shrek's fairytale friends accidentally destroying all of his handmade holiday decorations. Not to mention that Donkey insists that he should be the one who gets to tell "Twas the Night Before Christmas."

Of course, his version of this seasonal classic is a little bit different than the one that you & I know. Given that it contains a verse about ...

"And just when you think that you've seen it all,
Comes a huge waffle Santa that's 50 feet tall !"

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

It's at this point that Puss in Boots chimes in, insisting that Donkey's "Twas the Night Before Christmas" is all wrong. You see, in the version that Puss knows, there's no giant jolly old elf covered with butter & syrup. But -- rather -- a suave & sophisticated rogue who makes a point of leaving a mark in every household that he visits by scratching the walls with his Santa Claws.

 Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

It's at this point that Shrek has had enough of all these crazy fairytale characters upstaging the perfect holiday that he had planned for his family. So the ogre tosses Donkey & Co. out into the snow ... Only to have Fiona gather up the triplets and race after their friends. Where she then apologizes for her husband's ogre-like behavior.

But -- you see -- that's the problem. Given that this is Shrek's very first holiday (As he explains toward the end of this holiday special, "Ogres don't celebrate Christmas. Ogres don't celebrate anything"), he genuinely didn't know that things are supposed to get a little crazy at Christmas, that people are supposed to get a little out of control over the holiday season.

As Donkey so succinctly puts it (in a sentiment that I'm sure is never going to turn up on a Hallmark card) " Christmas is all about big fights. My Momma always used to say that 'Christmas ain't Christmas 'til somebody cries.' "

And now that he's figured out what the holidays are really all about, Shrek leads Fiona & their fairytale friends back to their home in the swamp. Where -- after tossing away his copy of "Christmas for Village Idiots" -- the ogre then regales this group with his version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Which -- as you might expect with a "Shrek" holiday special -- begins with a none-too-subtle fart joke.

"Twas the night before Christmas and naught a swamp rat did creep,
As mother and babes played kazoo in their sleep"

Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

Which then sets the stage for the arrival of Ogre Claus. Who also departs from Clement C. Moore's poem, in that -- instead of " ... laying a finger aside of his nose," Ogre Claus digs "... a finger inside of his nose." But not before giving the lady of the house " ... a good Christmas goose."

 Copyright 2007 DreamWorks Animation and ABC Television. All Rights Reserved

Okay. I know. That last joke was a bit on the blue side. But give the "Shrek the Halls" production team some credit, folks. They're smart enough to realize that there are kids watching at home. Which is why they then have Shrek face into the camera and give instructions for cooking that Christmas Goose ("425 degrees. 20 minutes per pound").

That's the real fun of "Shrek the Halls." Those quick I-didn't-just-see-that,-did-I? gags that are sprinkled throughout this show. Like that moment when Pinocchio hangs up his stocking by the fire. Only the stocking that this puppet lovingly tacks up at the fireside isn't red and fuzzy. But -- rather -- sheer and black lace.

Does "Shrek the Halls" go too far sometimes? Sure. By that I mean ... After seeing this holiday special, I'm never going to look at a chocolate kiss the same way again (Trust me, folks. You'll know the moment that I'm talking about when you see it).

But at the same time, having gone through far too many harried holiday seasons myself over the years, I have to admit that I got a big kick out of watching Shrek try & get the hang of Christmas ("The tree goes inside the house ?!").

So if you'd like your TV palate cleansed before you have to start swallowing all of those other sticky-sweet holiday specials, then you gotta watch "Shrek the Halls." For this is one Christmas special that really know how to put the fun back into dysfunctional family gatherings

Your thoughts?

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Happy Holidays!

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  • I LIKE crying at It's a Wonderful Life...

  • While I'll watch this special, I have to admit that I'm getting a little sick of Shrek...

  • Ahhhh... more burp, fart, poop, booger, boob, butt, etc, etc,... jokes for our kids at the holidays.

    I can't wait to let the kids watch this and then see exactly how fast their attention span shrinks and their IQ drops.

    If this isn't what Christmas is all about, then I don't know what is.

  • No Jim, I don't "gotta" tune into Shrek the Halls at all.  Thankfully I read your article and saved myself the agony of wasting 30 minutes of my life on this drivel.  I liked the first 2 Shrek movies; number 3 was crap.  I really don't get all the accolades for something that mocks and parodies everything Christmas and then tries to redeem itself in the last couple of minutes of the show.  Like THAT has never been done before.  Just another example of an unoriginal and uninspired "Christmas" special.  But what can one expect these days since Christmas is run by a big Eastern syndicate you know.

  • Tch. Yeah. I feel touched already. ¬_¬

  • I may actually watch this so that I can feel more in touch with the world the way it is today.

  • PHEW.... I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this sounded like a turd.

  • Original19 said:

    PHEW.... I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this sounded like a turd.

    IMO it sounded sort of worse.

  • so i watched this thing today, it was the bad really really bad.

    I had the same stupid pranks as the movies just rehashed with a christmas overlay.

    The story was chaotic with no real coehisive story except that basically concentrated on donkeys stupidity and Shreks ignorance.

    I really feel like i wasted a 1/2 of my evening an instead should had watched the lighting of rockefeller tree for the 75th time.

    why anyone would think that this junk could become a holiday favorite like the The Grinch or Charlie Brown Christmas is sad.

  • Although it's a little weird that Shrek and Fiona seem to have not discussed Christmas or celebrated it at least once already and apparently decorating on Dec. 23rd isn't an issue ... What gets me is how Shrek seems to never learn anything past any of his movies.

  • Hmm, I am in the minority.  I really liked it and my kids did too.  The line, "Sorry if you took being kicked out of my house the wrong way" really cracks me up.  I would rather see this again than Shrek the Third.

    I liked the theme of "your loved ones drive you crazy-- can't live with them, can't throw them out."

    I found it was true to the characters.  Shrek has changed through the movies in that he is now able to be very loving and caring to Fiona & his babies and is ready to make a lot of effort to please her.  But just as in the second movie he had to go beyond just accepting her (&, reluctantly, Donkey) into his solitary ogre life and try to be part of her extended family, and then in the third movie he had to deal with the prospect of fatherhood & other responsibilities, in this short show he had to cope with a lot of expectations and walking the walk of what his life is now-- being a husband, father and no longer a loner.  

  • ...Ick. This was simply horrible. If Shrek the Third wasn't bad enough, let's try to make it even worse with a crappy "heart felt" Christmas special!

    I think the worst part is that this went back on what the other movies have done. You'd think Shrek would be over his "I'm an oger, meaning I don't know anything about emotions" problem by now. At first it made sense, but by the second movie it's just become an excuse to make him be a jerk and then cover it up quickly.

  • Capt. Tomorrow, Micky and Ash have it right.  

    Poop and booger jokes have no place in any holiday "classic," and the show tried to redeem itself with the final two minutes of Shrek's "revelation."  It was too contrived.  

    I'll agree that the characters were true to their movie selves, but that just goes to show why you can''t take every popular movie figure and plop him, her or it into a new setting.  

  • fiona and the babies farts in their bed thats makes me pee....

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