Mike Myers’ Darkest Movie Is Crushing On Netflix

By Nathan Kamal | 2 weeks ago

mike myers

Mike Myers made the leap from Saturday Night Live player to film superstar as neatly as any of his peers ever has. While still a cast member on the long-running sketch show, he broke into Hollywood with the mega-hit Wayne’s World (which benefited greatly from his co-star/SNL peer/rival Dana Carvey). The sketch turned film and then sequel took the basic premise of a vaguely-heavy-metal-adjacent slacker with a public access TV show and used it to satirize show business with all its studio notes, product placement, and slick production. Wayne’s World set a precedent for many of his movies, with the Austin Powers franchise lovingly satirizing spy films and the cult comedy So I Married an Axe Murderer skewering romantic comedies by injecting it with a heavy dose of psychological thriller. But his darkest and most satirical movie would come in 2001 with the CGI “children’s” film Shrek. Currently, the Mike Myers Dreamworks film is absolutely crushing it on Netflix, where it is in the top ten most globally watched films for the platform. 

Shrek Mike Myers

You may ask, Mike Myers in a dark movie? Shrek, that movie about a flatulent green ogre and a donkey voiced by fellow Saturday Night Live Eddie Murphy, dark? The movie that turned Smashmouth’s “All Star” into an evergreen radio hit? First of all, that last one is a no; “All Star” was first made into a banger of a movie theme song with the cult superhero movie Mystery Men. But the rest, yes. Behind the dumb scatological jokes and Murphy’s riffing, the Mike Myers movie is filled with absurdly grim jokes, psychological examination, and loathing for the very world of show business that it comes from. Shrek functions on two levels: on one, it is a goofy family movie full of recognizable fairy tale tropes and an affirming message about self-acceptance, and on the other, it is a movie literally full of murder, torture, and thinly veiled sexual jokes. 

And not only that, but the Mike Myers movie actually has a pretty dark back story. Shrek is based off the 1990 children’s book Shrek! by  The New Yorker contributor William Steig. The author was one of the most prolific cartoonists in the magazine’s history, creating hundreds of humorous illustrations. However, Steig reportedly hated the necessity of advertising work, and that loathing for commercialism managed to find its way even into a story about an ogre. In the original story, rather than an unfriendly loner, Shrek lives with his parents and piles of rotting fish and takes joy in terrifying others. His own parents kick him out of his home, and at one point, he has a vividly illustrated nightmare in which he receives love and affection. Dark stuff. 

The Shrek movie that would eventually star Mike Myers also had a difficult production. Producer/Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg had been ousted from Walt Disney Studios several years before, after repeated conflicts with chairman Michael Eisner. Rumors have persisted for years that the central villain Lord Farqaad (voiced by John Lithgow) and his meticulously maintained fairytale kingdom were an unflattering caricature of Disney and Eisner. From the beginning, this children’s movie was constructed with spite and corporate intrigue. Katzenberg would hire director Andrew Adamson for the film, only to immediately begin arguing with him. Kelly Asbury was on-board to co-direct, then ditched for another project, so Vicky Jenson was brought on board. Adamson and Jenson reportedly split the project in two and worked mostly separately, which is always healthy for collaboration. Allegedly, Shrek was known at Dreamworks as something as a punishment for animators who performed poorly on other projects and was called “The Gulag.”

Shrek was not originally intended to star Mike Myers, but his Saturday Night Live buddy Chris Farley. Farley had recorded nearly all of his dialogue for the film, but then tragically died of an overdose of cocaine and morphine at age 33 in 1997. Myers was brought on board to replace his friend, recorded all of the dialogue once again, then decided to record it all once again in a variety of accents, eventually settling on his beloved broad Scottish Brogue. 

Even without all the production woes and Mike Myers re-recordings, Shrek is simply a very dark movie. This is a movie in which a talking cookie man is painfully tortured by dismemberment, and the movie goes out of its way to show that he does not get his limb back at the end. It is a movie that shows a talking bear sobbing in a cage, and then later shows its mother having been skinned and turned onto a rug. If you don’t think all that adds up to a pretty dark children’s movie, we don’t know what to tell you.