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In many places the film references classic movies, predominantly those by Disney. When Tinker Bell falls on Donkey and he says "I can fly" and people around including the Three Little Pigs say "He can fly, he can fly"; this is a reference to Disney's Peter Pan. This scene is also a reference to the Disney film Dumbo, where Donkey says, while flying, "You might have seen a house fly, maybe even a super fly, but I bet you ain't never seen a Donkey fly" The scene where Fiona is singing to the blue bird is a reference to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The transformation scene at the end of the film strongly references to Disney's Beauty and the Beast.
When Shrek crosses the bridge to the Castle and says, "That'll do, Donkey, that'll do," this is a reference to the movie Babe. The scene where Princess Fiona is fighting the Merry Men is a lengthy reference to the film The Matrix. At the end of the film, the Gingerbread Man at the end with a crutch (and one leg) says "God bless us, everyone" which is a reference to Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol.
In the scene where the Magic Mirror gives Lord Farquaad the option to marry three princesses, it parodies popular American television show The Dating Game featuring: Cinderella and Snow White. In addition, Lord Farquaad's theme park style kingdom Duloc heavily mimics Disneyland, even in so far as parodying the famous 'It's A Small World' musical ride in the scene with the singing puppets.
- This is the first DreamWorks Animation film to be released in May.
- The third DreamWorks Animation film of 2000s to be produced in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, after The Road to El Dorado and Chicken Run.
- The second DreamWorks Animation film of 2000s to be rated PG by the MPAA, after The Road to El Dorado.
- The sixth computer-animated film, after Toy Story, Antz, A Bug's Life, Toy Story 2, and Dinosaur.
- The third computer-animated film to be rated PG by the MPAA, after Antz and Dinosaur.
- This is the first time that DreamWorks Animation releases only one film in a year.