On DVD: Shrek Forever After

No matter which way you shake it, “Shrek Forever After” amounts to nothing more than a way to capitalize on a profitable franchise for a fourth time. Many fans will see this as proper closure to the franchise, but that’s the closure *they* need, not that the films needed. “Forever After” feels much more like a side venture than a full-circle exclamation point for the 21st Century’s most beloved animated character.

This grand finale follows the classic “see what your life would be like if nothing ever happened” plot of “A Christmas Carol” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Shrek (Mike Myers) is a daddy ogre now whose life has become repetitive and devoid of personal free time. When he finally bursts, a crafty Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), the notorious deal-maker of fairy tale lore, strikes up a contract that in exchange for one day of Shrek’s life, Shrek can have a day of being a regular ogre again. Shrek signs and suddenly “Far, Far Away” is turned upside down and Rumpelstiltskin has become the ruler.

The “don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” theme gets exhausted early because we’ve seen this several times before. We realize that although Shrek enjoys part of his “free day,” he’s going to regret his decision and want his old life back and plead with his friends Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) to remember. The only plus to this story line is that it changes up these characters we know and love just enough to make the fresh again in our minds. Fat kitty Puss in Boots, for one, is quite entertaining. Yet the film never shakes us of the feeling that all this is happening just for the sake of having another “Shrek” adventure.

Of all the new additions, necessary or not, Rumpelstiltskin is by far the best. Voice actor/writer Walt Dohrn shines in this elevated spotlight. He strikes up the right blend between bad guy we can pity and wacko villain and he’s animated in a way that follows suit. Unfortunately, his character mutates from crafty magical underling to eccentric Napoleonic dictator once Shrek signs the contract and he becomes like most other animated despots.

The other characters are up to the same tricks that DreamWorks Animation knows worked before and that we’re apt to fall for again. Most everyone has at least one funny moment here or there, but “Shrek Forever After” is much less hysterical on the whole than previous installments.

More significantly absent, however, is the sense of adventure and camaraderie. Previous films took us on actual journeys with these characters and showed us the ups and downs along the way, especially between Donkey and Shrek. In this film, Shrek attempts to make good with all his friends even though they don’t know who he is. He’s very much on his own and we don’t feel all that bad for him because we all knew signing the contract was a bad idea. Certainly this lesson should be heard by children, but adults have learned it already and “Forever After” doesn’t put a new spin on it.

There’s no shame in revisiting old friends in the form of familiar and lovable characters, but “Shrek Forever After” offers little more than those comforts. A handful of good jokes hit and some things surprise such as Rumpelstiltskin, but if this truly is the end of Shrek, I don’t think any of us, fans or not, will have trouble living happily ever after.

2/5 Stars

Shrek Forever After
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Written by Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke
Starring: (voices) Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Walt Dohrn, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment