Shrek, Donkey, and the rest of the gang are back in the fourth and final (supposedly) installment of the ogre franchise, “Shrek Forever After.” This time around, everyone has fallen into a monotonous daily routine that is predictable and boring. Shrek (Mike Myers) misses his days of terrorizing villagers and having the swamp all to himself.
One night, Shrek runs into Rumpel Stiltskin (Walt Dohrn) and makes a deal with Rumpel that will give him 24 hours of being a real ogre again on one condition: In order to gain a day, Shrek will have to give up a day from his past. The catch is Rumpel gets to pick what day. Rumpel, being the sneaky bastard that he is, picks the day Shrek was born.
If Shrek was never born, he never met Donkey (Eddie Murphy) or Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), and he never rescued Fiona (Cameron Diaz) or fell in love with her. In this new world, Rumpel is king of Far Far Away and Shrek has 24 hours to re-befriend Donkey and Puss, find Fiona, and make her fall in love with him all over again, because only true love’s kiss can break the spell.
When the first “Shrek” opened in 2001 it was a new kind of animated movie. It disproved the theory that cartoon equals kids movie. “Shrek” appealed to everyone and had jokes for every age range. With it, DreamWorks proved that it was a force to be reckoned with in the animation world.
Since “Shrek,” DreamWorks has gone on to produce hits like “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and most recently “How to Train Your Dragon.” So I’m left wondering how a studio can come out with an original film like “Dragon” and this tired old ogre within two months of each other.
The basic idea of this film is “Shrek” meets “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Shrek goes back to a world where he never existed so he has to do everything we watched him do in the first movie. You know a film series is in trouble when it’s not only stealing ideas from other movies, but from itself.
Besides the recycled story, the humor that was in the first two movies isn’t there either. This “Shrek” forces a lot of laughs in order to incorporate 3-D technology. In one scene Shrek roars towards the audience so spit and other grossness gets flung our way. This isn’t funny, and the effect isn’t that great. The 3-D doesn’t enhance the viewing experience at all. The “Shrek” movies have always had top-notch animation, and the 3-D isn’t needed when the world already felt like it had some depth to it.
While this movie wasn’t great, it was better than the last one, “Shrek the Third.” And it’s not bad, per say, there just isn’t much in it for the grown ups who will get dragged along.
The only real humor for those over the age of 12 is the soundtrack, which interjects some energy in an otherwise lifeless story. It has a little of everything from Beastie Boys “Sure Shot” to The Carpenters “Top of the World,” which come in at just the right moments. In one standout scene, Donkey meets Dragon for the first time, again, and Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello” starts playing, then she eats him.
Once upon a time “Shrek” was a fresh and witty comedy that challenged the conventional fairy tale. If you do go see “Shrek Forever After” definitely do yourself (and your wallet) a favor and skip the 3-D. Be warned, this once great ogre film has been reduced to nothing more than a mere kids movie.