When did the quadrilogy become the new trilogy? It seems to happening more and more often, the latest example being with the Shrek franchise. First we had Shrek, which kind of came out of left field and became an instant animated classic. Then Shrek 2 came around, it was good, too, and it introduced the memorable Puss in Boots. Still not satisfied, they pushed their luck with the lackluster and unimaginative Shrek the Third, which featured Justin Timberlake and only managed to the bring the series down.
After that stinker, you think the studio would just let it be. But then along comes Shrek: Forever After. The tagline was actually "The Final Chapter," as if to say "we promise this is the last one." But something special happened. The critical failure of the third movie lit a fire under DreamWorks' collective ass and they actually tried this time, resulting in a movie that's pretty much up there with the first two.
Shrek: Forever After borrows heavily from the Frank Capra classic It's a Wonderful Life. It doesn't steal from it, but rather pays lovingly homage. Shrek is now married with three little ogres of his own. Donkey is still every bit as rambunctious, bouncing around with his own three children in two. You have Puss in Boots vying for the center of attention. You have tour buses coming by the swamp everyday, right around the time Shrek goes to the outhouse. I tell you, a guy can't even enjoy a relaxing mud bath in this place.
Shrek can't handle his newly domesticated family man status. He's no longer a true ogre, of which he's reminded on a regular basis. He no longer frightens people, which really bothers him. Desperate, he signs a deal with the nefarious Rumpelstiltskin. He gets one day to live like he used, while Rumpelstiltskin gets to take one day from his childhood that Shrek likely won't remember anyway. Unfortunately, that day is the day Shrek was born, erasing him from existence and plunging him into the aforementioned "what if I were never born" world.
Shrek 4 succeeds exactly where Shrek 3 failed. With the third film attempted to cram in numerous characters, the only new characters of note in Forever After are a few new ogres and Rumpelstiltskin. Seeing more ogres is a real treat. If memory serves, the only ones we've seen in past films were Shrek and Fiona, and I've always wondered why they were the only two around. And Fiona wasn't even an ogre to start with! The main ogres (the only ones with actual names) are Brogan (Jon Hamm), Cookie (Craig Robinson), and Gretched (Jane Lynch), and all actors do wonderful jobs with their characters and, while they're not very fleshed out due to little screen time, they definitely add to the overall charm of the film.
And that's what makes Shrek: Forever After work. It has the charm of the earlier films. It doesn't go for a gag-a-minute, it just focuses on a real story within its wonderful cast of characters, and it succeeds. It brings back the ogre we all fell in love with. Shrek gets to be his old self just like he wanted, but he's not scary, he's sweet, he's caring, and he's a hero. He loves Fiona and we love him. I honestly don't know if Forever After is quite as good as the first and second films, but it's close enough and it's a fitting end to Shrek's story.
What do you think of Shrek: Forever After
Share your opinions on our forum