Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Review: Shrek Forever After

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Fun new take on characters who feel like friends
Cons: Predictable story; very light on laughs
The Bottom Line:
This ogre lacks bite
Leaving Shrek mostly harmless
Not a must see film

Ironically, Shrek Forever After Loses the Satire that Made Shrek So Fun

Once upon a time, there was an animated franchise that was a biting take on the familiar form of the fairy tale.  While it had many of the required elements, it skewered them, making itself fun for all.  Shrek Forever After is the fourth film in the franchise, and it has really lost its bite.

I can't help but find that ironic since as this movie opens Shrek (Mike Myers) is feeling a shadow of his former self.  His days are filled with taking care of his three babies.  His house in the swamp is now a stop on the Star Tours bus tour.  And with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss (Antonio Banderas) stopping by every night and Fiona's (Cameron Diaz) never ending to do list, it seems he never has a moment for himself.

At a birthday party for the triplets, Shrek finally loses it and storms out.  Unfortunately, his tantrum is seen by Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn).  Rumpelstiltskin has been plotting for years to take over the kingdom, and he sees this as his opportunity.  He offers Shrek a day of being a carefree, feared ogre.  But that day of fun becomes more than Shrek bargained for.  Will he lose everything, or can he find a loophole in his contract?

What made the first Shrek so much fun was its irreverent take on the familiar fairytale genre.  That is completely gone here.  While I enjoyed the second and third movie, they didn't have quite the same satirical edge either.  But this one almost seems to have forgotten it was a comedy.  Yes, there were some parts that were funny, but there were long stretches that were entertaining but not all that funny.

The story isn't really that original at this point, either.  Yes, once or twice I wondered how the characters would get out of that particular predicament, but the story was pretty much predictable.

Now all this makes the movie sound bad, and it isn't.  I actually did enjoy watching it, probably because I like the characters.  It was fun to see them in a new setting reconnecting with each other.

And the voice cast continues to do great work.  Other than the returning lead characters (and other well known returning cast members like Julie Andrews), the cast is mostly unknowns.  Famous or not, they brought their characters to life admirably.

And the animation looks great.  While still obviously a cartoon, it has really grown since the first Shrek movie almost 10 years ago.  I saw the movie in 3D because that's the only way it's still showing in theaters around here.  While I don't think the added visuals are worth the $4 extra they charge in my town, I did find them a fun addition to the story.

Shrek Forever After is still a decent movie, but the ogre has long left the franchise.  Hopefully, they truly let it fade into memory after this entry and let the characters enjoy their happily ever after.

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