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Shrek Forever After Review

By Chris Boylan

Ogre and Out

Shrek Forever After
In the three prior films in the series, lovable ogre Shrek (Mike Myers) has battled an "evil" dragon, rescued a damsel in distress, and saved his in-laws' kingdom.  He's gone from zero to hero, and now as "Shrek Forever After" begins, to tourist attraction. Instead of fleeing in terror, local villagers ask Shrek to autograph their pitchforks and torches or to "do the roar!" These days Shrek's greatest challenges are changing stinky diapers, unclogging the outhouse, and trying to get some peace and quiet for his daily mud bath.

This leads to a sort of midlife crisis, as Shrek wishes for the excitement and simplicity of days gone by. But, as they say, you need to be careful what you wish for, and evil deal-maker Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) is only too happy to oblige. Having been robbed of his chance to rule Far Far Away (by Shrek, as it turns out), Rumpelstiltskin, who is animated as the love child of Jay Leno and a leprechaun, offers the ogre a deal he can't refuse: for 24 hours, Shrek can have things the way they used to be: he can be a scary -- and anonymous -- ogre, in exchange for one little unremarkable day of his previous life.

Of course, Shrek takes the deal, and finds out that it is not what he hoped for (is it ever?). The day taken is the day of Shrek's birth, so the hapless green giant is transported to a desolate, joyless version of Far Far Away, as it might have been with no Shrek to save the day.  Sound familiar?  That's probably because the story borrows heavily from "It's a Wonderful Life."  But even so, it takes a few unique twists that keep the story entertaining, if not completely original.  In this new reality, Rumpel is king, evil witches throw decadent raves in the castle and Shrek's love Fiona (Cameron Diaz), the leader of the ogre resistance, has no idea who he is or why he's bothering her.  Worse yet, after 24 hours, Shrek will cease to exist and this new reality will become the only reality.

Fortunately the clever Donkey (Eddie Murphy) knows one or two things about exit clauses in Rumpelstiltskin's seemingly impenetrable contracts, and helps Shrek to find one chance at restoring things to the way they were.  Turning the first film's premise on its head, now it is Shrek who must obtain "Love's True Kiss" from Fiona, but to do so, he has to get her to fall in love with him.  This is no mean feat considering they've never met and Fiona is a bit preoccupied battling Rumpelstiltskin and trying to keep her ogre friends out of captivity.

Perhaps the funniest bits of the film come from seeing our beloved ensemble of supporting characters as they might have been: "Puss in Boots" (Antonio Banderas) has softened into a pampered fat cat (literally) without the energy to even get up from his bowl of milk to chase mice.  The gingerbread man (Conrad Vernon) has become a sort of gladiator, destroying animal crackers with a broken lollipop as his weapon, as raucous villagers place their bets on the sidelines.  And Fiona has become the fiery-haired warrior princess we always knew she could be after that fight scene in the forest in the first film.  Can Shrek rally the troops, and convince Fiona he is her one true love in time to save the kingdom (not to mention his very existence)?  We certainly hope so as the director Mike Mitchell and writers, Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke have managed to inject enough originality and earnestness into the tale to make us care how it all turns out.

The film's animation style seems a bit dated, is spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that it's blown up onto the huge screen in IMAX 3D.  But "Shrek Forever After" does present a unified look with the previous films which will hold up well for fans who may hold 4-part Shrekathons.  Dreamworks has previously announced that they will be re-releasing the three earlier Shrek films in 3D on Blu-ray 3D Disc later this year, so we wouldn't be surprised by a 4-film boxed set.

The 3D effect here in the fourth film is actually fairly subtle, giving characters heft and substance, and imparting the locations and backdrops a more exaggerated sense of space and depth (as in a flying dragon ride over the countryside which may not play well if you're afraid of heights).  Sure there is the occasional projectile weapon coming at ya, but for the full 93 minutes, I never once thought "that was cheesy" -- well at least not about the 3D effects.  The story does border on schmaltzy -- understandable given its theme -- but mostly in a good way, culminating with a welling of emotions as the heartstrings are tugged in the (fairly predictable) conclusion.  If you can see the film in IMAX 3D, then do, as it will certainly heighten your immersion in the bizarro fantasyland that is Shrek and Company's present reality.

Overall, "Shrek Forever After" may not be as clever or original as the first film, but it offers enough laughs, excitement and adventure to provide a fitting final chapter for the beloved animated series.

What did you think?

Movie title Shrek Forever After
Release year 2010
MPAA Rating PG
Our rating
Summary While not as compelling or original as the first film, this fourth and final chapter provides an amusing and enjoyable conclusion to the animated series.
View all articles by Chris Boylan
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