The Frank Capra hangover continues. So, after Gurinder Chadda?s It?s a Wonderful Afterlife, we?ve got Shrek Forever After, in which Shrek, taking a page from Capra?s classic It?s a Wonderful Life, discovers what a mess Far, Far Away would be if he had never been born.
Thankfully Forever After, the last in the series, is far better than the clunky Shrek the Third but it can?t match the originality and sparkle of the first two films.
The film opens with Shrek, voiced by Mike Myers, in the throes of a mid-life crisis. The once-dreaded ogre is now married with children and essentially a domesticated, nappy-changing, much-loved tourist attraction.
Eager to revive his intrinsic ogre-ness, Shrek makes a pact with the evil dwarf Rumpletiltskin, voiced by Walt Dohrn, who of course doesn?t play straight and Shrek finds himself in a world where he?s never been born.
And a pretty awful world it is: Rumpletiltskin and his nasty witches rule; Fiona, voiced by Cameron Diaz, leads a resistance against these evil powers; Donkey, voiced by Eddie Murphy, is employed by witches and the once suave Puss in Boots, voiced by Antonio Banderas, is now so fat that he can?t even lick himself clean.
Of course Shrek manages to make Fiona fall in love with him all over again and everyone lives happily ever after.
Some of this is still fun. Donkey and especially Puss in Boots have some great lines.
Rumpletiltskin is also nicely twisted ? he changes his wigs according to his moods and seems like the animated sibling of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland.
But there is nothing that you haven?t seen before. The struggle, the sassiness, the inevitable plot movement toward true love?s kiss feels tired. And 3D doesn?t do much to rescue it.
There are some fun chases with witches on brooms but unlike the recent How to Train Your Dragon, this isn?t a film greatly enhanced by 3D.
Still, Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots and even Donkey?s Dragon wife are much loved characters that the kids will enjoy watching one more time.
Shrek Forever After makes for passable entertainment on a hot summer day. Check it out.