No Way To Treat an Ogre
When Shrek and his friends get bored with everyday life, they take a trip to Las Vegas and spend a wild weekend which they can’t remember. Just kidding, folks! That’s what I imagined while trying to pay attention to Shrek Forever After, the disappointing fourth outing by some of my favorite animated movie characters. No matter how hard I tried, my mind kept wandering from what was happening on screen – which never occurred during the previous, and highly entertaining, Shrek adventures.
Perhaps I’m immune to It’s A Wonderful Life themes by now. Shrek Forever After, billed as the final Shrek movie, plumbs depths of despair similar to the ones explored in Frank Capra’s classic movie. That’s difficult to take even for adults, but in a film aimed at children? Yikes! Toddlers at the screening I attended were very restless throughout this “PG” movie, and the older tykes laughed only intermittently.
The story focuses on a contract between Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) and Rumpelstiltskin (voiced by Walt Dohrn). Our lovable green ogre seems to be having difficulty with his responsibilities as a husband and father, so when the crafty Rumpelstiltskin offers him a chance to spend one day like the untroubled guy he used to be, Shrek signs on the dotted line. (Note to self: always read the small print before signing any contract.)
Shrek magically gets transported to a very different world -- one he enjoys for a few minutes. Why? Because he can behave like a devil-may-care ogre. But, alas, Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas), and Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz) don’t even know him. He must make friends all over again – and only “true love’s kiss” can break this spell. (Where have we seen or heard or read this before?) Shrek will also need to join a rebel group led by Fiona in order to defeat an evil tyrant -- Rumpy, of course -- and his minions, which include numerous semi-scary witches.
Speaking of Puss in Boots, I’m not happy about the misuse of this charming character here. It’s so annoying to see the debonair, swashbuckling Puss get transformed into a spoiled pet. But take heart, Banderas fans, a Puss in Boots animated feature is still in the works, and I’m fairly certain we’ll see the captivating cat in all his glory once again.
The brightest part of this generally dark (both in theme and cinematography) offering comes from its wonderful background music. Songs like “Top of the World,” “Dueling Banjos,” “The Greatest Love of All,” and “Once in My Life” are used creatively to enhance various sequences, so I highly recommend the movie’s soundtrack. Wish I could say the same for the film itself.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG” for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.)
For more information about Shrek Forever After, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.