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Shrek Forever After Better Than Third

Published May 20, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of DreamWorks Animation
Shrek Forever After Poster Shrek Forever After
Shrek Forever After is the sequel that should have followed Shrek 2. It’s probably still not as good as the first two, but it’s way better than Shrek the Third. It’s still lost a lot of the humor, but it makes up for that with a really dark storyline full of intriguing darkness.

Review: Shrek Forever After

They’ve basically ripped off It’s a Wonderful Life. That lost me at first but then I remembered the whole series is a postmodern take on fairy tales. After they’ve done rescuing the princess, the fairy tale wedding and saving the kingdom, this is the next one. Shrek makes a dangerous wish for one day where he can be his old ogre self again, but a diabolical Rumplestiltskin trade him the day he was born, thus undoing the entire Shrek series.

The opening of the film shows Shrek’s mundane routine as a father. This is a very accurate portrayal of how overwhelmed parents can get. It’s not funny at all. These poor ogres don’t get to sleep, get pulled from all sides and don’t get any privacy. It’s a satire of human problems but that doesn’t make it a joke. That’s the first dark spot, seeing just how beaten down Shrek got.

When Shrek roars in frustration, actual kids in the audience cried. I’m certainly down with a family movie scaring the little ones. It puts hair on their chest. Still not funny, but getting darker.

Rumplestiltskin’s plot is really mature and evil. Still not funny, but if you think about it, he tricks someone into erasing their own existence. The more the plot develops, the more evil it gets. By the time Ruplestiltskin pulls his last trick on Shrek and Fiona, this is some serious sh*t that has to be taken care of. Still not funny, but pretty gripping.

The post-apocalyptic version of Far Far Away is interesting. There wasn’t time for Shrek to gather supplies in the wasteland, but you get to see the alternative version of all the sights. Gingerbread Man steels the show again in that sequence. The whole movie is scored by ironically sad love songs. Again, not funny, but really effective tragedy.

I really hope the die hard Shrek fans rail against Forever After for its revisionist history. Not the alternate reality. That’s fair game, but the idea that Fiona’s parents once visited Rumplestiltskin before Shrek rescued her is going back and adding things. I like that kind of storytelling. As long as it follows the rules, it’s interesting. But all the whiners who bashed the other revisionist sequels better raise arms here too. It’ll amuse me to see Shrek fans get as angry as Spider-Man fans.

You could analyze the new timeline and nitpick. You could ask where Prince Charming is if Shrek was never born to save Fiona. I’d say so much changed once Shrek wasn’t born that any number of things could have happened before Charming ever got there, so that’s not wrong. If you really want to see Charming, there’s an Easter egg in the credits.

Another good think about Shrek Forever After is that the plot requires a lot more of Shrek exploring alone or Shrek and Donkey together. Without all the supporting fluff, it gets back to the heart of Shrek. Still not funny, but more focused.

I know there were more things that were supposed to be funny but they weren’t. I think they should just go with the darkness, because that’s what works. The Chuck E. Cheese-esque birthday party castle with Shrek fans treating him like a performing monkey was supposed to be an ironic commentary, but really they just make all the supporting characters dance because they have no more jokes for them.

There’s 3-D pee joke. Glad we have new technology for that. It’s not even ironic, like “Oh, look what we’re using 3-D for.” It’s actually supposed to be funny that you see the depth of the pee stream. (It turns out not to be pee, but that’s not funny either.) The spastic Rumplestiltskin was supposed to be funny but that’s just cheap weirdness, and it plays better as an evil quirk than a joke.

There’s really good action though. With all the witches flying around, some ogre Parkour and big battle sequences, this is one exciting cartoon. In full cinemascope widescreen and 3-D, it sure looks great.

I also hope Shrek Forever After gets a parental backlash for being so dark. It’s so challenging to common notions of storytelling and entertainment that it should threaten people. Frankly, it would legitimize the franchise if it crossed over from blockbuster success to true infamy. Then the kids they’re “protecting” would grow up and discover how awesome it is.
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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of DreamWorks Animation

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