Shrek Forever AfterBy Karen Wilson
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date: May 21, 2010
Running Time: 1 hour and 34 minutes
Stars: 4 Stars
Plot Synopsis: Now that Shrek and Fiona are settled with three ogre kids in their swamp home, Shrek has noticed how repetitive happily ever after can be. When the impish troublemaker Rumpelstiltskin offers Shrek the opportunity to live one more day as a single ogre, Shrek signs his contract and ends up in an alternate universe where he never saved Fiona or befriended Donkey, and Rumplestiltskin rules the kingdom of Far, Far Away. If Shrek and Fiona can share True Love's Kiss the spell will be broken -- but if not, Shrek will disappear forever.
Sex/Nudity: As a happily married couple, Shrek and Fiona wake up in bed together (with their kids between them in bed) and kiss at the end of their day. In the alternate universe where Fiona doesn't know Shrek, he tries to convince her to kiss him. When alternate universe Fiona falls in love with Shrek, they kiss -- breaking Rumplestiltskin's spell.
Violence/Gore: Shrek gets very frustrated at a bunch of villagers and roars at them, then smashes the birthday cake for his kids. In the alternate universe, Shrek chases various villagers and enjoys scaring them. A group of witches on brooms attack Shrek and carry him off in handcuffs to Rumplestiltskin's palace. At Rumplestiltskin's palace, Shrek fights more of the witches and breaks out of the palace window with Donkey in tow. When alternate universe Fiona first sees Shrek, she kicks him in the head. The Ogres plan an attack on the witches. Shrek and Fiona are captured by Rumplestiltskin and chained up in the palace. The dragon is released on them and they tie her up with their chains. The ogres and the witches have a final showdown.
Profanity: Very mild and jokey, at one point Donkey calls Gingey, the Gingerbread Man, a "cracker."
Which Kids Will Like It?
Elementary age children should continue to enjoy the antics of ogre-with-a-heart-of-gold Shrek and his goofy friend Donkey. Older kids will appreciate more of the fractured fairy tale humor.
Will Parents Like It? Many of the clever self-referential jokes about the fairy tale world Shrek inhabits are aimed at the adults. At my screening, I could hear the adults were laughing just as hard as the kids.
Shrek, the green ogre that became an unlikely hero and a popular movie franchise, has exceeded all expectations. Who would've thought an ogre could save the enchanted princess or that a picture book by William Steig would've inspired a box office-busting animated series, video games, merchandise tie-ins and even a Broadway musical? Now that the movie series starring the voices of Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz is reportedly drawing to a close with this funny fourth instalment, it's a little sad to see them go.
After disposing of such memorable villains as Lord Farquaad, the Fairy Godmother, and Prince Charming, Shrek is up against a smaller, meaner, wig-obsessed foe, Rumplestiltskin. Long past making folks guess his name, Rumplestiltskin is now determined to rule the kingdom of Far Far Away. He almost got his wish many years before when Fiona's bereaved parents almost signed the kingdom over to him in order to break her ogre-transforming spell. However, the appearance of Shrek to bestow True Love's Kiss on Fiona foiled Rumplestiltskin's plans and now he's plotting to get his revenge by getting rid of Shrek once and for all.
In an It's A Wonderful Life spin, Rumplestiltskin tricks Shrek and transports him to a version of the world where he never saved Fiona from the dragon's tower and now all of Far Far Away is different. The film has a fun time depicting this lawless kingdom where everything's upside down. There's an epic battle waging between Shrek-like ogres and witches straight out of the Wizard of Oz. Gingey the Gingerbread Man is forced to fight animal cookies in a gladiator ring. Puss in Boots is no longer a svelte feline assassin; he's a fat house kitty who can't fit into his footwear. The movie abounds with clever visual jokes like this, puncturing the sentimental "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" moral.
Another one of the Shrek series' strengths is its all-star voice cast. As ridiculous as some of their live action movies have been lately, Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy always have great vocal chemistry as best buddies Shrek and Donkey. Walt Dohrn, who provides the voice of sneaky Rumplestiltskin, is a less well-known voice actor and screenwriter but his contribution still brings the cartoon villain with a huge wig collection vividly to life.
If only some of the other famous folks in the supporting cast like Jane Lynch, Kathy Griffin, Mary Kay Place, Lake Bell, Meredith Vieira and Kristin Schaal, who all play various witches, had more lines. Their cameos are barely distinguishable with their witchy accents and identical green faces.
But all in all this sweet sendoff is an appropriate sendoff to this group of beloved characters.
Directed by: Mike Mitchell
Cast: Mike Meyers (voice of Shrek), Eddie Murphy (voice of Donkey), Cameron Diaz (voice of Fiona), Antonio Banderas (voice of Puss in Boots), Walt Dohrn (voice of Rumpelstiltskin), Jon Hamm (voice of Brogan), Jane Lynch (voice of Gretched), Craig Robinson (voice of Cookie)
Movie poster courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
Karen Wilson is a freelance writer living in New York City.