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Lord Farquaad (John Lithgow) is searching for a wife. Because of a complicated situation he needs a mate so he can qualify as king of the land. The 3-foot-tall despot has already banished all the fairy tale characters from his land, resulting in a diaspora of familiar bedtime figures.
Shrek (Mike Myers) and the obnoxious Donkey (Eddie Murphy) factor in when Farquaad concludes that he needs dragon-slaying assistance. The woman he wants is the beautiful Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who's imprisoned in a castle by said dragon. To cut a deal to keep his house, the antisocial Shrek accepts the mission, except he falls in love with the princess he's been ordered to find!