Shrek Forever After
Grade: C +
Director: Mike Mitchell
Starring the voices of: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, and Walt Dohrn
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
In Shrek Forever After, Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, and the rest of DreamWorks Animation’s flagship franchise get together for one last (?) misadventure designed to save the land of Far, Far Away and sell Happy Meals (not necessarily in that order). In other words, what was once a worthy rival to Pixar for the hearts and minds of kids and parents alike has fully gone the route of a transparent money grab.
One year into parenthood and über-celebrity, the titular jolly green ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) is having a midlife crisis, weary of the domestic everyday and nostalgic over those halcyon days spent scaring villagers and relaxing in mud hot tubs. Unfortunately – in a metaphysical narrative only Lost devotees could love – Shrek cuts a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) to relive old glory for a day that also ruptures an alternative universe in which Shrek was never born (even though he’s in it – don’t ask) and Rumpel and his coven of wicked hench-witches are running the kingdom.
The marriage between fairy tale lore, risqué one-liners, and assorted pop culture references has never felt so tedious – when the Pied Piper plays The Beastie Boys’ “Sure Shot,” it makes Rumpel’s aquaphobic, Wizard of Ozian minions break-dance…yawn. However, the true laziness of this otherwise retread of It’s a Wonderful Life is that it features Shrek doing essentially everything he did in the first film – befriend Donkey (Eddie Murphy), fall in love with Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and become the hero. The changes are cosmetic: Alt-Fiona is the Joan of Arc leader of a band of ogre freedom fighter rebelling against Rumpel’s evil empire; Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is now a fat feline unable to lick himself or chase mice away from its milk bowl; and, director Mike Mitchell presents the one-dimensional storyline in now-ubiquitous 3-D, a medium weakly shoehorned into what was already one of the trendsetters in lifelike CGI animated filmmaking.
In truth, the Shrek films haven’t been good since Adam Adamson stopped directing them. While not as noxious as Shrek the Third, this installment is innocuous kiddie entertainment. Unfortunately, anyone who remembers the first two movies would and should expect more. In the end, Shrek Forever After is a lot like the portly Puss – still able to amuse but a largely a lazy shadow of its former self.