Entertainment » Movies

Shrek Forever After

by David Foucher
EDGE Publisher
Friday May 21, 2010
Shrek, voiced by Mike Myers, left, and Rumpelstiltskin, voiced by Walt Dohrn, in the fourth and final ’Shrek’
Shrek, voiced by Mike Myers, left, and Rumpelstiltskin, voiced by Walt Dohrn, in the fourth and final ’Shrek’  (Source:Paramount Pictures)

Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss in Boots are back - this time in 3-D. That might be an unwelcome thing to some who feel that the oversized green ogre has already overstayed his welcome with feckless second and third chapters. But to many, Dreamworks' fourth installment of the Shrek franchise will salvage its conclusion - this is a smart, imaginative, and dead funny sequel - assuming it is a conclusion. After all, Cher promised that too, and she's still farewelling years later.

The film picks up smack dab in the middle of a midlife crisis of ogre proportions: as Shrek (Mike Myers) cycles through his daily life with Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their three kids, he yearns to return to simpler and, well, uglier times. To be specific, he misses the days when people were frightened of him - and frankly, given the fact that at heart he's all softie, it's not surprising that the daily tour bus that careens by his stump is filled with Hollywood-esque, camera-toting flim-flam. We're tired of Shrek too.

Fortunately, a sassy new villain is on the prowl: Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) has a serious bone to pick with the famous ogre, and snaps at his chance when he witnesses Shrek moaning about missing those ol' ogre days. He offers Shrek the chance to once again become a true ogre, if only for a day, and if there are sinister clauses in his magical contract, Shrek doesn't much care. That turns out badly for the kingdom of Far, Far Away and its denizens: in a world where Shrek's existence has been rubbed out and Rumpel is in charge of the kingdom, everything has changed. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is a carriage steed looking for better work and Puss (Antonio Banderas) is the overfed house cat of a group of outlaw ogres headed by one Fiona - who, in having to save her own ass from the dragon, has embraced her Viking side... and some serious hair extensions.

Of course, Shrek gets his mojo back in the end, but the ride is highly entertaining, and far, far funnier than its two immediate prequels. Moreover, the 3-D adds a dimension (pun intended) of well-executed fun; it's not (shockingly) kitschy in its delivery, enhancing rather than overtaking the central story. The cast is well-practiced in these roles for the most part, but they certainly know how to keep their delivery fresh - particularly Myers, who manages (once again) to keep the heart of the franchise evolving in a pleasing, yet still mildly menacing, way.

Existing Shrek fans will appreciate the dry humor to be found cluttering the scenery in quite a few scenes. But screenwriters Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke have upped the ante when it comes to Hollywood homages and inside humor - some of the gags, particularly surrounding Rumpel's witch cronies, will appeal to cinema buffs. The ultimate mix is a pleasant one - and if Shrek goes out on this note, it's a good thing.

David Foucher is the CEO of the EDGE Media Network and Pride Labs LLC, is a member of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalist Association, and is accredited with the Online Society of Film Critics. David lives with his daughter in Dedham MA.

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