shrek week
Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

Shrek Week: A Super-Sized Celebration of the Century's Most Unlikely Movie Hero

As 'Shrek' turns 20, we're examining the animated ogre's surprisingly potent legacy.

On May 21, 2001, the lights went down in packed movie theaters across the United States, and audiences were immediately greeted by the sounds of Smash Mouth's "All Star" and the sight of a big, green ogre emerging from an outhouse. So began the unlikely rise of Shrek, a film phenomenon that forever changed Hollywood and is embedded in the very fabric of our lives today.

An overstatement? Sure, Shrek is seen by many as something of a joke two decades after its release, but there can be no question about the extent of the movie's impact. With a collective worldwide box office haul of $3.5 billion and an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, Shrek, its three sequels, and a spinoff film turned DreamWorks Animation, with its brand of celebrity-driven kids' fare loaded with references for adults, into a major force in the industry and helped usher out the Disney Renaissance era, filled with princesses and earnestness. Even as its influence has faded onscreen, Shrek has spent the 20 years of its existence inspiring a generation, as evidenced by an enduring internet presence that has fueled the creation of countless memes and weird (often really weird) art.

It's also led to Shrek Week, our celebration of all things Shrek. We've spent a shocking amount of time thinking about, talking about, writing about and bathing in the movie's joyous charms, and we hereby invite you to join in on the fun all week long with the stories below. Get your game on. Go play.

shrek and donkey
Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

By Thrillist Entertainment
Our staffers were tasked with rewatching one of the biggest movies of their childhoods. Is it still funny? Is it even good? One thing's for certain: They have a lot of thoughts.

shrek 2 soundtrack
Photos Courtesy of Getty; Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

By Esther Zuckerman
Yes, I'm accidentally in love with the sequel's soundtrack and I don't care who knows it.

shrek merch
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By Thrillist Entertainment
The Shrek phenomenon runs deep these days—so much so that you can buy just about anything you could ever want that features the ogre.

shrek, chris farley
Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

By Thrillist Entertainment
Shrek almost looked and sounded very different. Let's break down what those "what if?" scenarios could've meant for the movie... and life as we know it.

shrek quotes
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By Thrillist Entertainment
Help! These lines have been rattling around in our brains for two decades!

shrek memes
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By Esther Zuckerman
Shrek onscreen is very different from Shrek online, which is where he's the basis for a lot of explicit memes. How? Why? Let's investigate.

shrek libertarian
Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

We did a deep dive into politcal interpretations of the movie and it's more complicated than you might expect. As a political text, Shrek is pure chaos.

shrek animation
Design by Grace Han for Thrillist

By Leanne Butkovic
Shrek upended the standards of animated movies, and not necessarily in good ways.

Edited by: Leanne Butkovic and John Sellers
Written by: Sadie Bell, Leanne Butkovic, Dan Jackson, Emma Stefansky, and Esther Zuckerman
Designed by: Grace Han
Special thanks: The Gingerbread Man