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Why do we still love ‘Shrek 2’? Honor the franchise with the beloved cast

Once in a blue moon, a sequel eclipses the original film from which it’s spawned. We all know the big ones: The Godfather, The Terminator, and even Toy Story have sequels giving the original a run for its money. Such is the case with the biggest animated supernova of the early 2000s, Shrek.

We love Shrek 2 because the film holds the magic of the original, but freshens the story up with a few new characters, rather than weighing the film down with them like some other follow-ups (paging Jar Jar Binks).

Shrek 2 has a great story, killer animation, and truly wild soundtrack (we’re talking Dashboard, Bowie, and Nick Cave), but what brings the movie to the next level is its amazing voice cast. Let’s peel back the layers (layers, Donkey!), of Shrek 2, and remember why the cast knocked Shrek 2 out of the park, sailing Shrek toward franchise success.

Mike Myers

For many of us, there’s no Shrek, Shrek 2, or even Puss in Boots without Mike Myers. However, the Canadian-American wasn’t the first choice for the series; Nicolas Cage turned down the role, while Chris Farley was hired, recorded dialogue, and tragically passed before he could finish the project.

Myers made Shrek the stuff of legend, however, and there’d be no Shrek 2 without the impression expert. Thanks Mike. We’ll never look at swamps the same way again.

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz was an easy choice to play a beautiful princess in Shrek, but Shrek 2 moved her role into the spotlight, and Diaz had to do some serious heavy lifting in the sequel.

Diaz joined the Shrek cast on screen a year after Charlie’s Angels dropped in 2000, and the actress may have been peaking in the time Shrek 2 drove crowds into theaters in 2004, a year after the Charlie’s Angels sequel dropped in 2003. We imagine there’s no greater honor than being asked back to a cash cow franchise, and Diaz certainly collected in the early aughts. Thanks Cam, you make sequels look good.

Eddie Murphy

Donkey is to Shrek as burgers are to fries – you can’t have one without the other. Eddie Murphy took the sidekick role in Shrek 2 in-between starring & producing his own films in the early 2000s, and we can’t thank him enough for taking the time to remind us of the magic of parfaits.

Donkey isn’t featured as directly in Shrek 2 as the original, but he peppers quips & one-liners throughout the sequel, and the seasoning leaves the film with a perfectly balanced finish. Thanks Eddie, we love seeing you upgrade from donkey to a wild steed.

John Cleese 

John Cleese is one of the big names to make Shrek 2 shine, perhaps more bright than the original. He plays Fiona’s dad, and the Faulty Towers icon is a perfect fit for a dad who believes no man (0r ogre) is good enough for his little girl.

In the sequel, Cleese takes on an even bigger role than some of the side characters in Shrek, and the trained comedic actor flaunts his stuff with ease. Thanks John, there’d be no Shrek 2 without you.

Antonio Banderas

It’s not outrageous to say Antonio Banderas saved the Shrek franchise. Nowhere was the film series more energized than with the addition of Banderas’s Puss in Boots in Shrek 2.

Audiences went nuts for the cute fencing kitty when Shrek 2 dropped, so much so he may have eclipsed their love for Shrek & Donkey. Don’t think so? Then why did he snatch up the title & starring role of the latest Shrek movie? Thanks Antonio – without you, we may have had no hope for another Shrek movie, which can’t come soon enough.

Did we leave out your favorite cast member from Shrek 2? Are you a Shrek purist who’d live happily ever after if all copies of Shrek 2 landed in the dollar bin? Let us know in the comments!

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