Before we get into our review of Shrek Forever After, let me just say that I thought the third Shrek movie was supposedly the last. It should have been, bearing in mind the fact that ol’ Shrek had settled down with Fiona and started making babies. Not much further you can go with a story when your lead ogre is a family man.
To their credit, the writers of the fourth (and possibly final) installment in the Shrek series turn this into a positive. They take a toothless, sleep deprived and depressed ogre and make him wish for the days when he was young, free and terrifying. But how do you free Shrek from the shackles of his wife and kids? Well, you bring in the trickster Rumplestiltskin and con the orge into wishing he was single for a day!
Shrek ends up getting more than he bargained for when Rumplestiltskin steals one day from Shrek – the day of his birth. So, the world he wakes up to is one in which Donkey and Puss don’t know who he is, Fiona has become a hot ogre freedom fighter and his children have never been born. The stakes are pretty high, but it gives us a chance to see Shrek winning over his friends all over again, while trying to catch up with Rumplestiltskin and reverse his nefarious magic.
What’s interesting is that many other reviewers are slamming Shrek Forever After for being derivative and a rip-off of It’s A Wonderful Life. Quite sad really, considering the entire franchise has taken classic fairytale lore and mercilessly lampooned it and mixed it with modern pop culture references.
In the same year when Toy Story is having a wonderfully successful comeback, I can’t understand the backlash that Shrek is receiving. Critics are lining up to grumble about the storyline, or even the quality of animation. Some great moments are Shrek uncomfortably trying to sing to Donkey to convince him that they’re friends, and I thought it was brilliant showing that, among other ogres, Shrek is actually quite short. Then there’s the discovery that ogres can hold their noses and blow through their ears, making a trumpet sound.
And of course, the line that everybody has been raving about: Do the roar…
For my part, I was pleasantly surprised. I’d walked away from Shrek The Third sorely disappointed and wishing Mike Myers would stop beating us over the head with lame sequels (Austin Powers, Waynes World). Myers knows how to flog a franchise to death. Fortunately, Forever After restored my fondness for the characters and gave us a wonderful alternate universe view of them. A morbidly obese Puss In Boots, Donkey working for witches and Fiona leading an ogre resistance. All brilliant.
The kids loved it. I can point to a few places where I laughed out loud at one clever turn or another. And judging by the closing credits (a fond montage of all the characters from the four movies) we can hope that this puts the series to rest before they really do ruin it.
Have any of you Shout readers been to see the film yet? What’s your view?