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Shrek Forever After Review


RATING:
(2 STARS)

More so than being unentertaining, “Shrek Forever After” (or is it titled “Shrek: The Final Chapter”) is just ridiculously unnecessary. I don’t believe anyone can watch this movie and say it’s a story that needed to be told. At the end of “Shrek the Third,” our beloved ogre was in a happy place. He had a wife, kids, and close friends; he was completely content with life. But greed won out at Dreamworks, so here we are with a story that starts where the third left off, and leads us to the exact same place. I feel like when filmmakers don’t know where to take a sequel, they fall back on the old “things aren’t as great as they seem, but after a series of zany events, we realize they are.” That’s “Shrek Forever After.” Marriage and fatherhood are tough, but without it, you’d be sad and lonely. Pardon me while I yawn.

The film begins with a familiar prologue, detailing the story of Princess Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) and her curse. We learn that a devious, power-hungry businessman, Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walt Dohrn), nearly took control of Far Far Away, but just before the King and Queen signed over the papers, Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) rescued the princess. Rumpelstiltskin was ruined and disgraced.

Jump ahead a number of years. Our favorite ogres are enjoying quiet family life. But Shrek is restless. He doesn’t feel like a real ogre anymore, and at his kids’ birthday party, he lashes out and runs off. After stumbling across Rumpelstiltskin, the two strike up a deal. Rumple will provide Shrek with just one day of peace and quiet, while Shrek must give up one day from his past. The fine print, however, states that the day in question is the day Shrek was born. So Shrek is transported to a time when he doesn’t know Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas) is fat, Rumple is King of Far Far Away, Fiona is a jaded warrior, and his kids haven’t even been born. The only way for Shrek to get out of the contract is—wait for it—true love’s kiss, and he has until sunrise to make that happen. But with an ogre revolution on the way, it’s pretty difficult to get its leader to fall in love with you in one night.

Other than feeling completely stale and unnecessary, the film doesn’t have any other major problems. It was just really hard to get past that. There are some genuinely funny parts—pretty much anything involving Puss—but again, these characters gave us their best material in “Shrek” and “Shrek 2.” The mess that was “Shrek the Third” should’ve made Dreamworks realize this franchise was tired out, but they kept going. I’m happy they at least tried to give us some new situations for these characters. But if I really wanted to watch a “what would the world be like if I wasn’t born” story, I’d check out “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

I didn’t see the film in 3-D, so I can’t comment on that, but I did think the animation itself was a disappointment. The problem was that most of the story takes place at night. This doesn’t allow for the vibrant color that was present in the first three films. And it’s not like the story is dark, so it seemed like a strange contrast.

The studios promised this is the final chapter, and I sincerely hope that’s true. I have very fond memories of the first two Shrek films. But I found myself dreading sitting down to watch this one. Box office returns have been a bit disappointing thus far, but if it shows good legs, I wouldn’t be surprised if a fifth Shrek in a few years—or maybe a reboot since that seems to be the popular thing to do when filmmakers have nowhere to go with a story. But I think this is the last adventure I’ll be having with Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Puss (unless the rumored Puss in Boots spin-off actually happens). I think it’s time to let these characters go and live happily ever after.

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