This “Shrek” has seen better days
It has been almost a decade since the first “Shrek” film, and millions of today’s teenagers and young adults grew up with the film and helped to make the franchise, now on it’s fourth installment, a beloved, billion-dollar enterprise. There are plenty of us who still feel “Monster’s Inc.” (which debuted a few weeks after the first “Shrek” in 2001) is a superior movie in every way, but you can’t argue with the ogre’s success.
“Shrek Forever After” has also been titled “The Final Chapter-and we’ll see if that holds true. But this much is true: his time has come. The once magical irreverence ran out somewhere in the sprightly second installment, and this current film offers no artistic justification for future endeavors. (Though a supposedly in production spinoff for the character “Puss-in-Boots” has potential).
Kids and die-hard fans may like, if not love, the latest installment, though there were long periods of silence during one opening weekend audience, likely a result of the film’s more serious storyline, which appears pilfered from the classic “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
An ambitious worthy theme, to be sure, as Shrek (Mike Myers) finds himself hating much of his newfound domestic life while married to Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and fathering their three incessantly pooping and belching triplets. He longs for the days gone by when he was feared and he had plenty of time to take a relaxing mud bath.
Along comes the villainous and height-challenged Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn), with a Faustian deal that offers Shrek a chance to relive one day of his life before fatherhood turned him into a “jolly green joke.” Shrek agrees, but gets a raw deal because he didn’t read the fine print. In an instant Shrek is transported to a time as if he’d never been born and where the land of Far Far Away is now run by witches and Rumple (of course) rules.
A more somber affair, with little of the inspiration of the first two films, the familiar supporting characters are all present, including Donkey (the grating as ever Eddie Murphy), and a scene stealing Puss (Antonio Banderas), who has the film’s funniest moments as a now fattened tabby.
DreamWorks’ films for years were in the shadow of the consistently superior films of Disney and Pixar, but the studio has shown recently it is capable of excellent animated product, as witnessed by this year’s “How to Train Your Dragon.” Thus, the timing feels right for the big green guy to pass the torch to the new dragon on the block.
3-D Grade: A “C” for vibrant animation but a forgettable 3-D treatment.
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.