Shrek Forever After
2010, PG, 95 min. Directed by Mike Mitchell. Voices by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, Craig Robinson, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place, Meredith Viera.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., May 21, 2010
Oh, my. What’s an ogre with a midlife crisis to do? Now that Shrek (voiced by Myers) has settled into connubial bliss with his wife, Fiona (Diaz), a feeling of impotence begins to eat at the big green ogre. He hasn’t released a loud ogre roar in ages, and, consequently, nobody fears him anymore. He’s a dutiful father to his three young’uns and he still adores his beloved wife, but his days have been diminished by the routines of changing diapers and unclogging the perpetually clogged outhouse (cue the poop jokes, and don’t dwell too long on the mechanics of how an outhouse might become clogged in the first place). In this fourth animated Shrek film, which DreamWorks declares is the final chapter in this series, the character, appropriately, discovers that the thrill is gone. Shrek’s depression is ripe for the picking when he’s offered a deal by Rumpelstiltskin (Dohrn) that allows him to be a scary ogre for a day in exchange for any past day in his life. With this, Shrek ventures into It’s a Wonderful Life territory, getting to see what the community would be like for others had he never been born. It turns out that the land of Far Far Away would have been a completely alternate universe had Shrek never kissed Princess Fiona and broken her spell back in the first chapter. This is where the story jumps from the land of fairy tales to the land of the real, and it becomes evident that this irreverent, fairy-tale-tweaking series has run out of ideas. Yet even though Forever After is not as fresh-seeming as its predecessors, it provides passable entertainment, especially for the kids who won’t be familiar with the George Bailey storyline retread – or midlife crises, for that matter. Donkey (Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Banderas) are back, but in this alternate reality they don’t recognize their friend Shrek. Puss in Boots has grown egregiously fat, and the one thing I learned is that people love few things more than the sight of a fat cat. Gales of laughter erupt before Puss even utters a word. You’ll probably also be surprised to see the names of many other voice actors scroll by in the credits, so undistinguished are the characters that you never notice their contributions while they occur. This final Shrek is in 3-D, which doesn’t fit seamlessly with the series’ already established CGI visual look and may be the ultimate reason to pull the plug on the Shrek dynasty. But fear not: They all live happily forever after in bits and bytes.