Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After


Reviewed by: Tony Sullivan

Episode IV in the saga finds our loveable green ogre wishing he were not so loveable. After losing his cool during one of his offspring’s birthday celebrations he storms off. His tantrum was witnessed by one Rumpelstiltskin who has coveted the kingdom for many years and now sees a chance to achieve his goal. Taking advantage of Shrek’s midlife crisis he offers the ogre a chance for one day as his old self… and all Shrek has to do is give Rumpelstiltskin one day of his life in return.

The continual problem with the Shrek franchise is that the script writers gradually painted themselves into a corner by turning the irascible Shrek into the ideal family man and Fiona into a verdigris soccer mom. In order to make the characters interesting, mechanisms have to be found to revert the characters back to their original personae. This instalment does this by becoming the green ogre version of It’s A Wonderful Life with a twist in that Shrek has 24 hours to redeem himself with the aid of his friends, but friends who no longer recognise him.

Copy picture

First the good news, Shrek Forever After is an improvement on the preceding instalment, being funnier and edgier. The computer animation employs and enjoys all the latest wizardry that the technology can provide: behold the play of light over the ogre’s hand when he signs the evil document. Genius. If you are paying attention to such minutae you’re clearly bored with the movie, though.

The Antonio Banderas voiced Puss-in-Boots steals the show as per norm as a somewhat pudgier manifestation of himself in the alternative Shrek universe. All the other players are on form, the flashback format even allowing John Cleese to make a re-appearance - but new villain, Rumpelstiltskin, is rather colourlessly voiced by Walt Dohrn.

The Shrek franchise is no stranger to the 3-D process, indeed the first unofficial sequel in the shape of Shrek 4-D, which plays at the Universal Studios theme parks, took full advantage of the 3-D format long before current 3-D cycle. The 4-D, incidentally, means that among other physical effects you get sneezed on and are assailed by spiders at one point.

A brief aside on 3-D: The strategies of the Shrek 4-D movie and Shrek Forever highlight the then and now of the process. Shrek 4-D misses no opportunity to throw something out of the screens and into the laps of the audience. The trend that James Cameron’s Avatar started was to avoid the sensational aspects and give the viewer perspective into the action as does Shrek Forever. Because the polarized 3-D glasses have a mild tint, the movie needs to be a little extra brighter, so indulging in night scenes as Shrek does in this outing is counterproductive – Cameron got around that one by having all his plants and critters have their own luminescence! Shrek Forever therefore is a somewhat disappointing 3-D vehicle and will be fine in regular old glasses-free 2-D. So save your money.

The old balancing trick with the ‘family movie’ genre is to provide both younger and older audiences with a film they can appreciate, a trick the original Shrek pulled off seemingly effortlessly. Here, we have a kid’s movie the plot of which is driven by adult foibles. Go on, let’s see you explain a midlife crisis to an eight-year-old. Perhaps the moral of the tale is not to sign anything, which is probably sound advice in this day and age.

Slightly jinxed in the US, a tie-in promotion with McDonalds backfired when all the Shrek drinking glasses had to be recalled courtesy of Cadmium lurking within the pigments - one can't but help thinking that Shrek himself would be amused - but the film still managed to clock up some $230,000,000 in box office.

The gags are there, the songs are there, all your familiar friends are there, and you even get a montage of Shrek’s greatest hits over the end credits, all-in-all... it’s merely OK. We have been promised that this is the final film for the ogre, although the Puss-in-Boots character is getting his own movie in the future.

I would say there is more mileage in the formula with the right script, assuming the cast haven’t priced themselves out of the budget, I fancy a Shrek version of Til Death Do Us Part with the ogre railing against liberal politics, his kids and the silly old ogre to whom he is married. I can wish can't I?

Reviewed on: 07 Jul 2010
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Ogre and Out.
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Director: Mike Mitchell

Writer: Josh Klausner, Darren Lemke

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Craig Robinson, Walt Dohrn, Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place, Kristen Schaal, Meredith Vieira

Year: 2010

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


Tribeca 2010

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