Cover Art and Menus: 7/10
The cover for Shrek the Halls is colorful and includes all of the main characters. It is decent enough, and of course it makes a case for the holiday season special.
The menu is also decent, with a shot of the Shrek house, decorated for the season. Again, colorful and festive, so no real complaints.
The features on the Shrek the HallsDVD are just kind of random, and not really always related to Shrek at all, which is a bit annoying. I understand that the Shrek the Halls movie itself is under 30 minutes, so we shouldn’t expect too much from the extras, but if they are going to sell the short movie as its own DVD, give us some related extras with it. Otherwise it just feels like this is an attempt to cash in.
- 12 Days Of Christmas Sing Along –This, along with the Deck the Halls sing along are not really even Shrek related. The 12 Days of Christmas is a variation on the original song, but with the penguins from the Madagascar movies. It is a strange mix, and I am not sure that it needs to be on this DVD.
- Deck The Halls Sing Along –Again, the penguins from Madagascar are doing the honors. I am a bit disappointed that they didn’t take the time to make this with the Shrek characters, as it just seems tacked on.
- Gingy’s Dunking Game –This is an interesting game where three gingerbread cookies are displayed, and the trick is to pick the one that looks the most like Gingy. Some of the arms and legs of the cookies are gone, presumably from someone like Santa Claus taking a bite. This gets old, and is not what I would really call fun. I really think that even young kids would not be too thrilled about these types of games.
- Shrek Carnival Craze Video Game Demo & Cheat Code –Drop the DVD into your PC and the Shrek Carnival Craze Video Game Demo starts up. It is a mix of three different games aimed primarily at younger kids.
- Dreamworks Animation Video Jukebox –Dreamworks has a thing about including these jukebox’s for their animated films. Basically this is a way to hear some of the popular tunes, with the scenes from several of the recent Dreamworks animated films. It is decent I guess, but when the total time is longer than the running time of the Shrek the Halls movie, something is amiss.
The Movie: 7/10
Shrek the Halls is an interesting use of new animation to create a holiday tale. All of the voice actors are back, including Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Banderas. Basically Shrek the Halls is the story of how Shrek learns about the Christmas holiday.
Shrek, living back in the swamp with Fiona and their 3 babies, had never experienced Christmas, as ogres really don’t celebrate any holiday. He is tricked by Donkey into promising an amazing Christmas, but he realizes he has no idea how to go about creating such an event. After buying a Christmas for Dummies book, he sets out trying to make everything perfect for Fiona and his kids. Donkey ends up bringing all of the rest of the Shrek characters over on Christmas eve, which sends Shrek off the deep end, as he feels that Christmas is ruined.
When he tries to tell the babies his Christmas story, he is interrupted by Donkey, Puss n Boots, and Gingy, who all tell their warped view of Christmas. Finally Shrek kicks everyone out, and when Fiona leaves with the kids, Shrek is forced to apologize and explain to everyone that this is his first Christmas. Then everyone comes together to enjoy the real joy of Christmas; being with loved ones.
The story itself is fine, but because Shrek the Halls was made for TV, it clocks in at under 30 minutes, which is too short for the Shrek team. It just feels forced from start to finish. A good example is that each of the story told includes snippets of songs, which would normally be full length. In the full length films the songs can take time to develop, but in this short, they just feel rushed, as does most of the movie. It is great for little kids, but the one-liners and jokes just seem to fly by, which doesn’t allow for you to really savor anything.
I love the fact that all of the characters are back, and this really did have a lot of potential, but it just feels too forced. I would have liked to see this expanded, as it really reminded me just how much fun the Shrek movies really are. While the film is obviously aimed at both kids and adults, I was really thrown by Gingy’s story about Christmas, where he talks about a horrible experience he had when he was younger. In it, he is sitting in a car with his gingerbread girlfriend, when Santa reached down and grabs her, before taking a bite of the cookie. The scene is hysterical, but as my 3 year old watched it, I realized that they really make Santa out to be a huge, mean monster. It was almost disturbing to see my son’s reaction to “bad Santa.” It never would have been a big deal for me until I watched my son’s look of horror, as he asked my if that was the “real” Santa, and “why is he mean?” Funny, but a bit disturbing for the really young kids.
I liked Shrek the Halls, but I am not sold on the idea of making holiday shorts using these types of characters. It just doesn’t necessarily seem to work. On the front of the DVD is says “an instant holiday classic,” which may have also been the tag line for the Star Wars Holiday Special back in 1978. I imagine that the tag line wouldn’t have been aptly applied in that case either. Shrek the Halls is fun, but I will stick with my Grinch and Heat Miser, thank you.
Audio & Video: 8/10
The video for this Dreamworks release is excellent. There was nothing skimped on here besides the length of the program. It looks every bit as good as the full length Shrek movies. The DVD offers both full screen and wide screen modes, and both look amazing.
The sound is also great. Lots of use for the surround sound, and it was excellently mixed. I thought the levels were great also.
There really is not a whole lot of value here, seeing as this clocks in at under 30 minutes. I know this was released on TV in 2007, but this just seems a bit ridiculous. To me, this would make a great extra on one of the full length Shrek releases, not a full release. It is fun, but it is just too short for me to recommend anyone run out and buy it. With the extras just kind of thrown in, and not always Shrek related, I would say wait to see this one play again on regular TV this fall.
Overall Score 5/10