Friday, December 9, 2011


Shrek Forever After
Released 5.20.2010

Directed by Mike Mitchell
Written by Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke, & William Steig (book)

"Shrek Forever After" is a surprisingly good film in a series of diminishing returns. The added characters are a delight, instead of annoying, and the wrinkle-in-time plot device is a refreshing place for the series to go. It's not a knock-out, but worth checking out.

"Shrek" was a delight. It mixed fairy tales and nursery rhymes like nobody's business and poured on modern-day sensibilities that made it instantly relatable, intelligently satirical, and immensely enjoyable. "Shrek 2" seemed to continue the recipe, but threw in far too many pop-culture references for its own good. "Shrek the Third" made me want to rip out my eyes and place them in a blender. It was bloated and foolish. Somehow I found myself in the theater before "Shrek Ever After," the fourth in a series I thought I had sworn off... I was sure it would continue the downward trend, but if anything it redeemed the series.

It takes the fantasy-romp mechanics we have learned to expect from the series and infuses it with a relatable journey (a la "It's a Wonderful Life"). The film supposes Shrek and Fiona did not live quite so happily ever after. If anything, they live rather realistically. With a home full of kids and a never-ending duty to them and their mother, Shrek is stressed out to say the least. Ogres have mid-life crises too... After making a sour deal with Rumpelstiltskin (given a highly effective voice by Walt Dohrn) Shrek sees what life would be like without him. Sure, some scenes have one popular reference too many that won't stand the test of time, but where "Shrek Ever After" saves its own neck is in its originality.

We get plenty of new characters (and all the old favorites as well. A birthday party bookends the film and plenty of the attendees are sure to make you laugh. Shrek's new adventure brings more ogres than we've ever seen before and it is an interesting to observe this feral yet repressed people. "Shrek" appears as the new guy and the story practically writes itself, but who could predict some of the turns it takes. The aforementioned Rumpelstiltskin is the best villain since Lord Farquaad in the original "Shrek" rounding this latest adventure out rather nicely. You may have intentionally skipped this one (though someone must have seen it, it made a truckload at the box office) and with a tagline like, "It ain't ogre... till it's ogre," how could I blame you. I dismissed first myself, but you could do much worse than. Finally, I suppose it goes without saying that this is the best looking in the series.


CONTENT: animated violence, mild language, crude humor

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