Shrek Forever After

Posted on December 7, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Talk about happily ever after! “Shrek Forever After” is the best Shrek since the first one.

After a third episode that proved they couldn’t take it much further by going forward, they’ve found a clever way to reboot the story with an “It’s a Wonderful Life”-style look at what Shrek’s life would be like if none of the events in the first movie ever happened.

As the movie begins, Shrek the big green ogre (voice of Mike Myers) is feeling a little suffocated with his fairy tale ending in the land of Far Far Away. He loves Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) and their triplets but the daily grind of caring for them and the constant scrutiny of being a celebrity is making him feel uncomfortably domesticated. His most fearsome roar is turned into a party trick. He longs for “just one day to feel like a real ogre again,” to go back to a time “when I could do what I wanted…when the world made sense.”

And that is just the opening that Rumpelstiltskin (voice of writer Walt Dohrn) has been waiting for. Rump wants to be King and came very close once before when Fiona’s parents, the King (voice of John Cleese) and Queen (voice of Julie Andrews) have come to Rumpelstiltskin as a desperate last resort. He can break the curse that condemns their daughter Fiona to be human by day and an ogre at night. But he always insists on something of value in exchange. They are just about to sign over their kingdom when they get word that the spell has been broken.

Rumpy gets his revenge when Shrek impulsively agrees to an exchange — if he can have just one more day as an unencumbered ogre, he will give up a day of his life in return, any day of Rumpy’s choice. But just as in real life, people in fairy tales never read the fine print. After about an hour of fun scaring villagers (to the cheery accompaniment of The Carpenters’ “Top of the World”), Shrek begins to feel lonely, especially when he starts to understand that his best friend Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and Fiona have never met him. And then he begins to feel dread when he realizes that it will be much harder than he thought to find his way back home.

The first Shrek was a wonderful surprise, a post-modern fairy tale. Shrek 2 was a lot of fun but a bit noisy and crowded. Shrek 3 was over-clever, self-referential, and snarky. This one restores the balance between humor and heart. And it gives Fiona a chance at center stage as the confident and courageous leader of a rebel band of outlaw ogres. Shrek falls in love with her all over again, and we do, too.

We meet up with some great new characters, especially ogres Cookie (voice of Craig Robinson of “The Office”) and Gretched (voice of “Glee’s” Jane Lynch). Our giant green hero enjoys being with his own kind but is nonplussed to find himself something of a runt among his fellow ogres. The bounty hunter Rumpy sends to round up Shrek and Fiona is the legendary Pied Piper. It turns out his famous pipe has a special ogre setting that has the huge green folk helplessly shaking their groove things as they boogie off to the dungeon. And there are some big changes in those we already know. Speaking of big, Puss is far, far away from the dashing swashbuckler; here he is Fiona’s ultra-pampered pet.

The film makes superb use of the 3D effects with action sequences that involve a huge pendulum swinging through Rumpelstiltskin’s palace. There’s also a 3D diaper joke, though thankfully not what you’d think. The spit take, on the other hand, is. Dorhn is a bit of a weak spot in the voice talent but the film’s expert balance of humor, heart, and excitement is real movie magic.

Related Tags:


3D Animation Based on a book Comedy Family Issues Fantasy For the Whole Family Series/Sequel Talking animals

9 Replies to “Shrek Forever After”

  1. Nell–
    I love reading your reviews when we disagree on films because I find such a diverse opinion really interesting to read. The things you loved I strongly disliked, and the one thing you criticized was one of the few elements I liked. I found the 3-D unattractive, unnecessary and needlessly dark (most of the movie is set at night which doesn’t help matters). I can’t wait to see it on Blu-Ray where it will actually look vibrant and probably pop off the screen far better than the 3-D here does. I found the use of Puss in Boots as a nonstop fat joke mean-spirited and totally inappropriate for a children’s film, sending out a very stereotypical and ugly message. And finally, I thought Walt Dohrn’s voicing of Rumpelstiltskin was the standout in a cast of otherwise recognizable A-list voices.
    Can’t wait for Toy Story 3!
    See you soon!

  2. Same here, Dustin! I always get a kick out of the way different people sitting in the same theater can have such different reactions, especially when it is a friend whose views and writing I respect so much. I enjoyed your review, too!

  3. Thank you to DUSTIN for being honest and reviewing as a PARENT. I appreciate his input on the mean spiritness and fat hmor. We will not being seeing this movie based on that. I wish more parents wrote reviews with their child in mind and not their wish to glorify a film or be a frustrated Sun Times reporter. Thanks Dustin, I really appreciate it. You saved my kid from this movie.

  4. Thank you, Bess. I’m glad you appreciated my good friend Dustin’s excellent work. However, I do not agree with him on this point. While there is some humor about one character’s having a life that is the opposite of what we have seen him do before — instead of being a dashing, athletic, adventuresome cat he is a pampered pet — the underlying theme of all of the Shrek movies has a very powerful message that all shapes and sizes of bodies are beautiful. After all, one of the main characters is a princess who is far happier as a big, green ogre than as a slender blonde.
    I welcome your comments at any time, but please remember that the rules of this site prohibit insults of anyone; anyone who complains about the mean-spiritedness of a film (especially without seeing it), should be careful about appearing that way herself — and setting a poor example for the child she wishes to protect.

  5. The boys and I saw this last weekend and loved it 😀
    I thought it was pretty cool to show them that even a sweet-tempered, loving mom could have the heart of a warrior lurking insider her. We all cracked up at the dance caused by the pied piper’s witch setting. I thought the 3D was a lot of fun, though I suspect I would still have enjoyed the movie without it. As far as Puss goes, I didn’t find the comments made about him to be offensive or especially mean-spirited (and, having to lose a few pounds myself, I can be sensitive on the topic). The characters in the film show a lot of love for one another, despite their differences, and the message about appreciating your life and loved ones made a positive impression on my kids.

  6. I have to disagree with the “all ages” rating. Based on reviews, including Movie Mom, I took my 3 1/2 year old to see Shrek 4. It was okay, but there’s extended fighting scenes. I don’t know how long they go on, but fighting is a major element, including dark scenes with witches and scary jack-o-laterns. Maybe I’m overprotective, but I wish we hadn’t have seen it. It’s just too much for the little ones.
    This is a good movie, but I don’t think it’s an “all age” type of movie. I would wait until you have a slightly older kid and if you’re not particularly sensitive to violence. Just my two cents.

  7. Thanks, Elisa, this is helpful. You should know that “all ages” is with the caveat that I never recommend feature films in theaters for any child under age 5 unless it is specifically designed for that audience. I made it clear in my parental advisory notes in the review that the movie had fantasy peril and violence and I will amend it to point out the scary images as well. Sorry the movie was stressful for you and your child and, as I said, I recommend keeping them away from theatrical releases until age five at the earliest.

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