Mark Reviews Movies

SHREK FOREVER AFTER

2  Stars (out of 4)

Director: Mike Mitchell

Cast: The voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn, Jon Hamm, Craig Robinson, Jane Lynch, Julie Andrews, John Cleese

MPAA Rating: PG (for mild action, some rude humor and brief language)

Running Time: 1:33

Release Date: 5/21/10


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Review by Mark Dujsik | May 20, 2010

If we believe marketing, then Shrek Forever After is the last installment (or "final chapter," as the ads calls it) in the story of the lovable ogre. If you don't believe advertising, then believe the end credits, which use clips and images of the characters and situations from the previous movies to bring back better memories. The third movie gets the short end of the stick during the credits, which is probably as it should be (Apparently that movie is as forgettable to the filmmakers as it is to everyone else).

If you don't believe the end credits, then the final proof is in the movie itself, which continues the trend of its predecessor. Here is yet another story forced upon the characters, humor that is funny only every so often, and a premise that is decidedly treading the familiar waters of this once hilarious, ingenious, and genuinely touching world and the characters who inhabit it.

Shrek (voice of Mike Myers) is moody yet again. This time, he's become numb to the day-in, day-out of raising a family of triplets with Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) and hearing the regaling tales of his past from his friends Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas).

Desiring to go back to the glory days when ogres were feared by torch and pitchfork-wielding townsfolk and not the entertainment fodder of snot-nosed brats (One of whom incessantly demands to hear Shrek's roar in a funny, scratchy-voiced staccato), Shrek's ennui comes to a head at the babies' birthday party. Fighting with his wife and storming off, the mischievous Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walt Dohrn) makes a magical deal with our ogre hero: He will give Shrek one day as a feared ogre in exchange for another day in the ogre's life.

Stiltskin (as he will be called from here on out for brevity's sake) has a devious plan in mind. He once intended to take over the Kingdom of Far Far Away by forming a similar contract with Fiona's parents, but in saving her from the tower, Shrek put a damper on his plan.

Shrek indeed has a day to himself, but since the day Stiltskin took away was the day of his birth, Shrek will fade from existence at the end of it ("How's that for a metaphysical paradox," Stiltskin declares, quite rightly). None of his former friends know who he is, and Fiona is the head of an ogre resistance force fighting against Stiltskin and his army of witches, who still have a warranted aversion to water.

Using such a gimmick as the reason for the story is the most obvious evidence that the Shrek saga has run out of steam. Shrek's goal, once again, is to prove to Fiona that he loves her and show why she should love him. The variant this time around is seeing how the world has changed because of a Shrek-less existence.

Fiona is a warrior princess, still (apparently) under the spell that changes her from a human by day to an ogre by night (although she's always an ogre here). Without her prince charming to rescue her, she has become bitter and cynical. Puss has become too big for his boots as Fiona's pet. Donkey is still the wise-cracking, pop-song-singing amusement he always has been. Shrek, yet again, comes to see the error of his ways.

The plot rushes through its points, which is a blessing for pacing but a curse for developing what potential there might be. The new characters, a slew of ogres and a bevy of witches, are without much unique personalities, although the ogre chef (voice of Craig Robinson) earns a laugh for a well-timed non sequitur about the food needs of an ambush during a war room meeting. Even a voiceless Pied Piper, hired as a bounty hunter by Stiltskin, after an amusing entrance riding a mischief of mice, only has the trait of forcing creatures to break-dance by playing his adjustable flute.

The one new character who stands out is Stiltskin, who makes a just-memorable villain. Stiltskin is a consistently entertaining antagonist, with his diminished stature, a weasely voice to match his personality, the propensity to change coiffures for different occasions (One makes him look very much like a famous heightened-hair doll), and an Amadeus-like style choices (via Tom Hulce's portrayal).

With Shrek Forever After, the series exits (hopefully) on the right note. It's not because it comes close to the achievement of the first two films (It doesn't), but because it gets out before we turn from amused detachment to fed-up annoyance.

Copyright 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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