On Shrek the Halls

ABC repeated their new holiday special, Shrek the Halls this evening.

I hadn’t watched it on its original broadcast. Several friends of mine, all of whom whose opinions I respect, admire, and often agree with, described Shrek the Halls variously as “a train wreck,” “this generation’s Star Wars Holiday Special,” among other descriptions.

Since it was being followed by Winnie-the-Pooh and Christmas, Too, I decided I’d watch Shrek the Halls, just to see if it were, in fact, really as bad as it had been made out to be.

I’ve been generally untouched by Shrek. I saw the first film, and I own it on DVD. But I’ve seen neither of the sequels. So, maybe for me, Shrek isn’t overly familiar.

I kinda enjoyed Shrek the Halls.

Yes, it’s basically a free commercial for the Shrek franchise. Parents may watch this with their kids and realize, “Oh, there might be a Shrek product I don’t own.” And it wouldn’t surprise me if Shrek the Halls hits retail before the 24th. For all I know, it’s already on sale.

I laughed at it.

No, it wasn’t particularly inventive in any way. It has the typical sitcom plot of a well-meaning father who wants to give his wife and family the perfect Christmas, only to have everything he does thwarted by his friends and neighbors. Sitting there, watching Shrek the Halls, I could predict every plot beat. The story wasn’t surprising, and it didn’t have the mythic scope or legendary scale of the first film. Except maybe for the Gingerbread Man’s Christmas story — that was surprising, yet rather insightful for what Christmas means to gingerbread people.

Hell, it occurs to me that some of the story beats parallel The Nightmare Before Christmas. If that film were condensed down to sitcom length…. Yes, yes indeed.

Sorry. Babbling.

That’s the big issue, really. It’s unoriginal. And I found myself critiquing the idea that that kind of Christmas — a Christmas as we know it today, basically, which is rather young historically — would be celebrated in the Shrek world. Shrek never really learns the “true meaning of Christmas” or anything like that. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas or How the Grinch Stole Christmas for that.

I’m not going to recommend Shrek the Halls. It’s not something anyone should go out of their way to watch. But if it’s on, and you’re not sick to death of the green ogre, it’s not completely terrible. Just be aware that it’s unoriginal and maybe, like me, you’ll give a half an hour’s worth of enjoyment out of it.

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