An ogre, a donkey, and a princess walk into a bar…. Whoops sorry, its not a bad joke, its DreamWorks’s new toure de force, Shrek!, and filmmaking (I hope) will never be the same.

Shrek! stars Fat Bastard, er I mean Mike Meyers as the voice of Shrek, an ungainly Ogre with a serious fear of crowds. When the diminutive Lord Farquaad rounds up all the fairytale creatures in the kingdom and dumps them in Shrek’s swamp, this surely green Ogre is faced with a serious squatter problem, which can only be solved by a little bit of princess rescuing, heroic, un-ogre like behavior. And so, with the help of his new and somewhat annoying donkey pal, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Shrek sets off to clean out his swamp and ends up saving the world.

In a way Shrek! is almost an amalgam of cookie cutter fairytales thrown into a blender and twisted up and turned inside out, to create something totally and completely different. Yet at the same time, Shrek! also remains rife with elements borrowed from other less traditional fantasy films, softly resounding with themes and elements from classic films such as “The Princess Bride” and “The Never Ending Story.” But truthfully, this is more of a compliment than a criticism, for Shrek! is a beast all its own, cleverly written and practically oozing wit and cynicism while somehow at the same time remaining charming, laughable, and loveable.

DreamWorks has created something truly amazing here and this Hobbit knows that this little review can only begin to do it justice. But from stem to stern, Shrek! is a beautiful and lovingly crafted movie. From its lush, stunning, eye popping visuals; to its odd, strange, and heartwarming characters, Shrek! is guaranteed to leave its audiences cheering, laughing, and gasping for more.

It might be easy to dismiss Shrek! as just another kid’s movie, a good family jaunt. But this film has so much more to offer than just the same old family fair. The humor is adult, the characters mature and well rounded, but the film still manages to stay on a level that is almost irresistibly attractive to children yet at the same time perfect for adults. Sure, a big green farting monster and his talking donkey companion may SOUND like an idea that fell off the side of a McDonalds happy meal, but Shrek ain’t no Ronald McDonald.

Perhaps Shrek! sends a message to filmmakers out there, perhaps it says something about creativity and laughter, maybe, just maybe Shrek! is the future of movies. On the other hand it might just be a story about a stinky green giant. But for now, Shrek! is one of the best films of 2001.