A couple of years ago the first Shrek movie was a pretty big surprise hit. It was a sharp satire of Disney fairy tales, filled with pop-culture-references and a really enjoyable movie overall. The sequel was a great continuation of the story and introduced some fresh new characters like Puss ’n Boots. I still have Jennifer Saunders’ rendition of “Holding out for a hero” on my iPod. The third was the one where it started hoeing downhill as the movie had a plot I can’t even remember and was fairly low on genuine laughs. But as it rake din a hell of a lot of money a fourth installment was imminent. And now we have Shrek Forever After which is probably the last of the franchise, until a reboot gets a green light, and while not the worst, it still shows us that Shrek has become predictable and repetitive.
The shows our beloved Ogre enduring a midlife crisis as he misses the days he was a single man, living alone in his swamp and having run-ins with pitchfork carrying villagers. So when he meets the devious Rumpelstilstkin, who can make any wish true as long as you sign a contract, he takes him up on a deal; Shrek gets one day as the Ogre he was before he rescued Fiona and Rumpelstiltskin gets to have one day out of Shrek’s life. Unfortunately for Shrek Rumpel chooses the day Shrek was born and thus never born. The past day he is transferred to is one where nobody knows him, he never rescued Fiona and the kingdom belongs to Rumpel. Now that Fiona was never rescued by Shrek she doesn’t believe in True Love’s First Kiss no more, and wouldn’t you have it if that is the only escape clause in the contract. So Shrek has to go on a quest to make Fiona see that he is her true love.
Shrek 4 has its fair share of laughs, especially generated by Puss ’N Boots who is somewhat chubby in this alternate time line. I even liked the character of Rumpelstiltskin as he was pretty funny, especially with all of his wigs. But the whole alternative time line is a genius as it is boring. It’s an original idea, but it just put aback at the first movie as Shrek had to fall in love with Fiona again.
Other than Rumpel, no new memorable characters are introduced, thus leaving the movie to be carried by the original cast. They do their job adequately but nothing more than that. I’m surprised someone like Julie Andrews and John Cleese pop up as they have only a handful of lines and probably were only busy an hour doing their recordings. Oh well, bills have to be paid I guess.
The animation is of the same standard we’ve gotten used to and looks great as ever. Since the movie is only 90 minuted long the story is fast-paced while keeping the falling-in-love-again-plot pretty believable, though the outcome is never a real surprise. The only thing keeping the movie somewhat fresh and enjoyable is the same witty writing that we have come to love these movies for. It’s not better than part 1 and 2, but better than part 3.
But let’s just hope this book is closed and everybody lives happily ever after.