So, Shrek. Anyone still want another one of these? Did anyone see Shrek Forever After and still desire a fifth? I know I didn’t. To be fair, there are still a few funny moments in this film, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have somewhat of a good time, but I’m sick of the character of Shrek, and I’m tired of most of his supporting cast. There’s nothing fresh about him any more, nor is there anything fresh about this series.
Shrek Forever After opens with the lovable green ogre named Shrek (Mike Myers) living with his former princess wife, Fiona (Cameron Diaz). A montage occurs, showing us how Shrek isn’t particularly happy with married life. He starts off feeling fine about it, but after three whole days of having to change diapers, unclog the outhouse (however that works), and eating dinner with his three children, wife, and his two friends, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), he’s grown sick of it.
Shrek seemingly can never be happy. He wasn’t happy when his swamp had some visitors, he wasn’t happy being a king, and he’s not happy here when he’s married to the love of his life, surrounded by people who love him. He looks for an out, which presents itself in the form of Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). Rumpelstiltskin tells Shrek that the ogre can live one day as a “real ogre” in exchange for Shrek giving up one day from his childhood — a day that Shrek might not even be able to remember. A contract is signed, the world begins to disappear, and before he knows it, Shrek finds himself in a new location where everyone fears him because he’s an ogre and that’s what people feel when they see an ogre.
Unfortunately, and in a twist that pretty much every audience member will see coming, Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t doing Shrek a favor. Through a series of convolutions, he has managed to become the new king of Far Far Away, and has managed to give Shrek only one day to live. Shrek’s life won’t revert back after 24 hours are up; it’ll cease to exist. And better yet, nobody knows who Shrek is because Rumpelstiltskin took the day that Shrek was born. It’s a pretty smart plan on the part of the con artist, although since he’s dealing with Shrek, we know that there will be fisticuffs before our film fades to black.
However, since nobody knows who Shrek is, our main character has to convince his former crew that they should trust him, and then also find a way to get out of the contract that he so foolishly signed. Donkey is with Shrek for most of the film, Puss (out of boots and very overweight) gets the most laughs, and Fiona appears as the leader of the ogre resistance against Rumpelstiltskin and his army of witches.
Most of the film consists of following Shrek and Donkey wandering around through a slightly dystopic but by no means terrible version of Far Far Away, trying time after time to figure out just how to get Shrek out of this jam. Almost all of the laughs come from the overweight Puss. This is mostly because everyone just loves watching an adorable, fat, kitty cat, and that no matter what he does, it’ll be funny. If the entire movie was spent in one room with Puss doing whatever he wanted, I think I would have been content.
Apart from Puss, I think I might have laughed two or three times over the other hour and a half worth of content that fills up Shrek Forever After‘s running time. There didn’t even seem to be much of an attempt at writing humorous dialogue this time around, although that’s consistent with Shrek the Third‘s approach, so at least you can say that Dreamworks picked a strategy and stuck with it. Mostly, though, the film is just boring. You’ve seen most of it before in previous Shrek iterations, and what’s “new” has been taken from other, much better films.
There’s little that anyone can gain from watching Shrek Forever After. Apart from the few laughs that Puss brings, I don’t think that many people will enjoy it. Am I that far off? Are there a lot of people who still like Shrek and still think that he’s an interesting character? Do people think that watching him do the same thing over and over (wander around with Donkey while getting involved in random action scenes) is enjoyable? I know I don’t. I’ve grown tired of the ogre, I’ve gotten bored with Donkey. Like a child who wants a new toy and throws the old one at his older brother while he’s not looking, I’m done with Shrek. The only character I would tolerate more of is Puss in Boots, if only because he’s a cute little kitty cat and I couldn’t get tired of him if I tried.
Even the voice work has gotten lazy. To steal a line from someone else, “I could almost hear Cameron Diaz painting her nails [while recording her dialogue].” It’s all so uninspired and unemotional that it’s obvious that many of the cast members are done with the franchise as well. Only the animators, the poor, poor animators, seem to still care. They still put in a lot of work and detail, giving the film as much credibility as they can.
Shrek Forever After is the promised end of the main Shrek franchise, and I really hope that’s the case. All of the earlier creativity is gone, and at this point, most of the characters are annoying instead of being insightful or funny. A franchise that started off as an enjoyable diversion from your average animated film has become a raindrop in a sea of many. When not even your voice actors care, it’s time to pack it up and move on.