Movies with Pete: Shrek and The Princess Bride Are Suspiciously Similar


Courtesy of Pixy

Allow me to summarize the plot of one of my favorite movies: inside of an old storybook, an outcast leaves his rural home, encounters and befriends misfits on his quest to save a kind and elegant girl from marrying a dopey and funnily-named prince. Once he arrives at the castle, the outcast engages in a standoff with the prince, ultimately rescuing the girl and living happily ever after.

Pop quiz: which movie did I just describe? Was it Rob Reiner’s 1987 classic The Princess Bride or Mike Myers’ 2000 box office smash Shrek? Actually, it aptly captures the essence of both. The Princess Bride and Shrek are both timeless, funny, and touching movies on their own, but it’s time to call attention to the eerie similarities between the two.

First, let’s draw some distinctions between the films. Despite its regal vibe, The Princess Bride does not incorporate a magical element like Shrek. Rather than meeting one ass on his journey, the protagonist joins up with three, and their dialogue is slightly less tense. Unlike Shrek’s love interest Fiona, The Princess Bride’s Buttercup does not begin the film as royalty. Finally, the closing battle scene in The Princess Bride is much more detailed and provides considerably more excitement to the viewer.

This is where the discrepancies end. Between the drama, the interpersonal relationships, and the comic relief from creative and unusual side characters, everything about Shrek reeks of The Princess Bride. Even the book on which Shrek is based, Shrek! By William Steig, was published in 1990, three years after The Princess Bride was released in theatres (The Princess Bride is also based on an original book of the same name). Legendary creators Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, and Igor Stravinsky have all opined that “good artists make, but great artists steal.” Shrek is undoubtedly a great piece of art, in large part because it stole intrinsic plot elements from The Princess Bride. 

Shrek’s writers and biggest fans could argue that allusions to popular fairy tales are littered throughout the movie, so a few commonalities between the films are circumstantial. However, the similarities between Shrek and The Princess Bride extend much deeper than the mere mention of The Three Little Piggies or Tinkerbell. The essential plot points of Shrek are more or less lifted from The Princess Bride. While this skeleton makes for compelling and comforting entertainment, it also recycles tired content and plagiarizes one of the great films of all time.