Every year around November, there are usually a few new Christmas specials that incorporate some beloved animated characters. One of the more recent additions to the holiday lineup was “Shrek the Halls,” a twenty-two minute story about Shrek’s first encounter with Christmas. Directed by Gary Trousdale who also directed “The Madagascar Penguins in: A Christmas Caper” (which is highlighted in the special features of this DVD), “Shrek the Halls” follows Shrek (Mike Myers) as he learns what Christmas is, having never celebrated it before.
The story begins with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) counting down the days ‘til Christmas, hoping to get Shrek in the mood for the upcoming celebrations. But Shrek doesn’t care about Christmas…that is until he learns that Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) does. Desperate not to disappoint her and her desire to celebrate their first Christmas as a family, Shrek takes off on Christmas Eve to the bookstore. This is one of the funnier moments in film. In the bookstore, Shrek takes “Christmas for Village Idiots” to make sure his Christmas goes perfectly. Shrek, Fiona and the baby ogres decorate their house, and just as they settle in to listen to Shrek recite “The Night Before Christmas,” Donkey shows up with their friends who take over the house and begin celebrating, much to Shrek’s dismay.
“Shrek the Halls” stays true to its usual formula of Donkey annoying Shrek, Fiona reminding Shrek to relax, and Shrek finally realizing he cares about Donkey. There are some funny moment here, especially once the guests arrive, but at twenty-two minutes there can only be so many big laughs. Donkey, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), and the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon) all tell their version of “The Night Before Christmas” and each is equally amusing. Especially Puss in Boots which gets a big laugh at the end. Gingerbread Man’s is a bit horrifying, but humorous none the less.
“Shrek the Halls” focuses on Shrek not knowing what Christmas is or how to celebrate it. The answer being: everyone celebrates Christmas differently, there’s no right way, as long as you celebrate with your family. Shrek learns his lesson and wraps up the tale with his own version of “The Night Before Christmas” in true Shrek fashion. The animation is actually quite stunning for a TV film and remains true to the original designs. “Shrek the Halls” isn’t the best holiday TV movie, but it’s offers some classic Shrek moments and several laughs. This is a sweet story without being too sentimental throughout and thankfully the original cast all came back to offer their voice talents.
VIDEO: Dreamworks Animation presents "Shrek the Halls" in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The animation quality is higher-end than expected for a direct-to-DVD effort, and it's presented well by this enjoyable transfer. Sharpness and detail are overall above-average, with fine object detail often looking crisp and clear. Aside from a couple of minor instances of artifacting, the picture appeared clear and smooth. The festive color palette also looked bright and bold, with no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was quite basic, with next-to-nothing in the way of surround use. Audio quality was fine, with clean, clear dialogue and full, rich music.
“12 Days of Christmas Sing Along”
A new take on an old classic, you can sing along with the words on the screen while watching the crazy antics of the penguins from “Madagascar”. It gets a bit repetitive after while, but with the background images and familiar characters, it may be fun for fans.
“Deck the Halls Sing Along”
Also with the penguins from “Madagascar,” you can sing along with their take of “Deck the Halls” (that incorporates a familiar tune from “Madagascar”) while watching footage of the group experience the holiday season.
“Gingy’s Dunking Game”
An interactive game where you have to help save Gingy from being dunked into milk and eaten. When cookies come out of the oven, it’s your job to make sure and pick the Gingerbread Man that most resembles Gingy.
“Shrek Carnival Craze Video Game Demo”
A demonstration you can try on your computer.
“DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox”
Music moments from various DreamWorks films. The films you can choose from are:
“Shrek The Third”
“Over the Hedge”
Final Thoughts: "Shrek the Halls" is cute and has a few laughs, but is quite brief at only 22 minutes. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality and a few minor extras. Overly expensive at $19.99 for what it offers, I would recommend fans pick this up only if they can find it for sale at a substantial discount.
The Film B-