At this point, what can I really tell you that you don’t know about Shrek? Unless you have been living under a tree stump in a swamp, chances are you are very familiar with the franchise about a lovable green ogre and a colorful cast of characters pulled from popular children’s fairy tales.
In this probable last movie of the franchise, Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is knee-deep in diapers and devilish toddler antics, and he’s not exactly digging the whole domestic thing. The realities of family life are weighing him down, and a disastrous birthday party is the last straw.
As is typical of most parents, he fondly recalls the pre-marriage and pre-kids days as being much better than they actually were. You know, that whole “the grass is always greener” mentality everyone falls victim to from time to time. In his delicate emotional state he becomes easy pickings for the shady Rumpelstiltskin, who offers Shrek one day as his former playboy self.
Rumpelstiltskin actually erases Shrek from his current existence, and Shrek is forced to see what becomes of his friends and family if he never existed, à la It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s hardly an original concept, but it is cute enough for a children’s film, and that is what this franchise has become.
The original Shrek was fresh and engaging, and parents who took their kids to the film were pleasantly surprised by a plethora of smart pop-culture references and witty in-jokes. Those pop-culture references are still present, but they just seem tired at this point, and the whole movie feels very mediocre.
It is not a bad movie, but you just get a feeling of “been there, done that” throughout the entire running time. At this point, I think most of us are going for the children, not for ourselves. My seven year old found the movie thoroughly engaging, and I like the fact that the film can serve as a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for.
There is some truly fun stuff here, I just wish there were more of it. In the alternate existence, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is a fierce princess warrior who has learned to fend for herself, since Shrek never saved her.
A highlight of the film is the current physique of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas.) Let’s just say he’s looking rather portly nowadays. It’s a sly nod to the current obesity epidemic in our society, and he steals the show.
Donkey’s little donkey-dragon hybrid offspring are crazy cute, and Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Craig Robinson, John Cleese, Ryan Seacrest, Regis Philbin, and a host of others lend their voice talents to the movie. It is bursting with celebrities.
The 3D is crisp, clear, and felt organic, which was refreshing after some of the stinkers I have seen as of late.
Shrek Forever After is a perfectly acceptable family film, and you could certainly do worse, but I’m crossing my fingers that the franchise has truly ended. Shrek has gotten a little long in the tooth for me, and it is time for him to head off to movieland’s retirement home.