Monday, March 10, 2008

The One and Only Shrek by William Steig, narrated by Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep - review

The One and Only Shrek by William Steig, narrated by Stanley Tucci and Meryl Streep
Oh my god.

I have enjoyed the work of William Steig since I was a child. Sure. Who hasn't? And I enjoy a good film performance as much as the next person - didn't everyone cheer when Meryl Streep whacked Kevin Bacon with an oar in The River Wild? And Stanley Tucci's arched brow has added a certain something to all kinds of movies, plus he may be the only Italian-American actor living today alive or dead to have never been on The Sopranos.

But I will put it to you that these three powerful, creative humans have only now, in concert with one another, attained the pinnacle of their potential.

Tucci snarls arrogantly as Shrek and simpers decadently as Shrek's princess. Streep howls like the wind, whistles, imitates a trumpet, sobs, and does some kind of lapping thing with her mouth to sound just like falling rain. It's VERRRY impressive.

William Steig's books aren't big message or theme books, but listening to these stories read by such masterful narrators, you can hear clearly what was important to the author. Love, responsibility, fidelity, courage, justice. Not little themes, you know. Screw 'sharing' and 'teamwork': in Steig's world, if you get turned into a dog, you go home to your wife and suffer and try to make her feel better, until you get turned back into a person. In William Steig's world, you walk over the mountain through a blizzard with a twisted ankle to deliver an empty box to a duchess to keep your mother's reputation intact.

But when you get home late with a crazy story about a magical talking bone and your mom thinks you're just making it up? The magical talking bone corroborates your story for you. That's William Steig's world, and we've been listening to it in the car over and over and it hasn't gotten old yet.

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