It’s a modern holiday tradition that families will spend some time huddled around the cold glow of the LCD flatscreen and share in the bounty of holiday programming goodness.
There is such a wealth of ancient holiday specials featuring crimson-nosed flying caribou and stop motion animated toys that it is a rare occurrence that a new program will supplant one of the shows in our traditional rotation, but the recent airing of Shrek the Halls was an exception.
This made for TV special has all of the Shrek characters returning to celebrate Shrek’s first Christmas with his new family, born in Shrek 3. I was a little surprised to see that all of the wonderful voice talent, including Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, and Antonio Banderas, had returned for this hilariously heartwarming half-hour television release. It’s about 22 minutes without commercials, so every moment is packed with fairytale Christmas cheer.
The plot is a standard fish out of water tale that finds our lovable ogre confused and in a bit of a panic as he is faced with his first Christmas. His only guidance is a copy of Christmas for the Village Idiot. Donkey, in an attempt to help, invites the entire fairytale gang over to Shrek’s swamp to help celebrate.
Shrek reacts in a typically ogre-like manner when the swamp house party gets out of hand, and he kicks everyone out into the snow. After the standard Shrek musical montage moment of reflection with piano and vocals, Shrek confesses to his friends that this was his first Christmas and invites them all back to the swamp for a wonderful Shrek version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
The show is packed with wonderful moments, like the Gingerbread Man’s terrifying tale of when he and his girlfriend encountered Santa, or Puss in Boots who portrays Santa as a hot Latin cat that slashes an “S” into the Yule log. I’ve watched this thing a few times now, and I think my favorite moment is when the three little pigs are lying together in a blanket, talking about how funny it is that they are pigs in a blanket. It’s not that funny as it is, but the fact that they are sipping hot cocoa and speaking with bad German accents makes it hilarious somehow.
Keeping with Shrek tradition, the soundtrack for Shrek the Halls is fabulous, and features songs by Eels, Santana, and Fatboy Slim. It’s very family friendly as far as I’m concerned; although, if you take offense to bathroom humor, you will need to look elsewhere for your holiday chuckles.