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Seeing Green 

Toon sequel will make a bundle

While most sequels slide down that slippery slope of diminishing quality, the eagerly awaited Shrek 2 is on a par with its predecessor. That bodes well for all concerned, since the 2001 original grossed $267 million and copped the first-ever Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

In this outing, newlywed ogres Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz), with the self-professed "annoying talking animal" Donkey (Eddie Murphy) in tow, travel to the Kingdom of Far, Far Away to receive the blessing of Fiona's human parents, King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews). The meeting goes badly -- an ogre isn't what the King had in mind for a son-in-law -- and the fallout leaves everyone vulnerable to the machinations of the Fairy Godmother (Jennifer Saunders), who's secretly plotting for her vapid son Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) to end up with Fiona.

Little kids will enjoy the colorful characters, while older audiences will dig the sly references to The Seven Year Itch, Pretty Woman and Ghostbusters (to name but three), as well as the inspired sight gags (e.g., a store called Tower of London Records). But the movie's real ace is Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas), a debonair swashbuckler -- or at least when he's not busy coughing up hairballs. In a movie filled with imaginative bits, he emerges as the cat's meow.

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