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>> Friday, May 21, 2010

Shrek Forever better than Shrek the Turd.

It’s a usual tale we’ve heard a million times and seen in a hundred movies and TV shows. The main character wakes up to their “awful” life where they don’t realize how good they have it – so they ask a magical fairy (or a magical fairy man) to make it all better and give them the life they crave. It’s your typical “what if…?” proposal that creates a story full of lessons learnt. I will admit, however, I wasn’t crazy about seeing this typical plot being brought to the likes of Shrek Forever After.

Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t worried about the idea that this instalment would be the worst thing to happen to the series. Shrek was magical, Shrek 2 was hilarious (and perhaps my favourite) and Shrek 3 was a typical, disappointing and awful sequel and comparable to the likes of Spider-Man 3. So the Shrek series had already let me down so I didn’t expect much from Forever After, especially when I heard the premise behind it.

The movie starts when we find out Shrek (Mike Myers) has actually hated his life since getting married and having kids. No one fears him anymore (turns out he was happier during those times), everyday is the same and he has become somewhat famous since becoming and unbecoming the King of Far Far Away. It’s the same routine for him every day and frankly he misses the golden era of life he was leading when we first met him in Shrek.

After becoming easily frustrated at his triplets’ first birthday party, he leaves the party and goes for a stroll. By the way, the funniest and most catchy line of the movie goes to the fat kid at the birthday party who keeps telling Shrek to “do the roar” (and it’s not that line either-but he’ll say it and you’ll laugh). So along the walk Shrek runs into Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) who says he will let Shrek be like he used to be for one day before he met Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and all olStiltsy wants in return is one day from Shrek’s childhood. Subsequently, he picks the day Shrek was born and Shrek wakes up in the plot of Back to the Future 2.

In this life Fiona doesn’t know him, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is afraid of him and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is a fat, fat mess. It’s up to Shrek to gain Fiona’s kiss by the end of the day to break the spell and put Rumpel in his place.

Shrek Forever After may not be as funny or refreshing as Shrek 2, but it still delivers on the laughs in a lot of unexpected places. There wasn’t much wrong with this film, just stuff I would have like to have seen. In the alternate universe he visits, Shrek theoretically never existed (paradox much?) - therefore his actions done in the first film are null. I would have found it clever and endearing if perhaps during his adventures in Oz he ran into the first film’s villain, Lord Farquaad. Even a small cameo would have reminded us a bit more of where this film series came from and created a more nostalgic feel for what is supposedly the end of the series. Plus John Lithgow’s height-challenged character was one of the more entertaining characters in Shrek. But his absence is about the only complaint I have.

There’s nothing to really hate in Forever After, and that doesn’t make it the worst movie of the year by any means. But what it does have doesn’t make it an amazing movie either. For me, Forever After was simply fun and something I was able to get into relatively easily. I had a great time watching it, and it further adds to my belief that animated films can actually benefit from 3-D. The door is open for this 4th and final instalment of this lovable green ogre’s quadrilogy, and I recommend it to anyone wanting a little harmless fun added to the beginning of what is sure to be a great summer for movies.

*Stills courtesy of Dreamworks Animation


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