Sometimes I hate this blog, specifically the TBT feature. It forces me to remember how quickly time is passing. I remember seeing Shrek Forever After with my friends from University and, it turns out, that was about 7 years ago. It feels like yesterday. I came to re-watch this after finding it on Netflix recently and having no clue what to write for today. I try to link my Tuesday review with my Thursday one but I was finding a companion for The Best of Adam Sharp a bit of a pain. I think the fourth Shrek film works though: instead of a man looking back on his life and imagining “what if?” it’s an ogre. It was also a rather easy thing to watch when I got home from work yesterday. It’d been a hellish day and all I was really capable of was watching a short film intended for children. Although, I do quite like this series of films. The first one is really good and came up with an interesting twist on the classic Disney fairy tale romance. The second film was equally fabulous. Then there was the third film, which super sucked. There’s always something funny to be found though. So, it wasn’t the worst film I could sit down to watch for your benefit I suppose.
Animated movie sequels have traditionally had a bit of a tough time reaching up to the potential of the original film. I mean look at all of Disney’s straight to VHS sequels to its most popular films. Yes, you love The Lion King but its sequel? Didn’t think so. When it came to Shrek it succeeded with Shrek 2, which was a funny and enjoyable romp with a great cast. It was the all-singing, all-dancing film that had Shrek trying to outwit and the evil Fairy Godmother. It was great. I randomly went to see it with friends despite having never seen the first one so it’s sort of become my favourite. Of course, no matter how good the second one was it was unlikely that it could continue. And it didn’t. The third film was utterly abysmal and unnecessary. So, the announcement of a fourth was hardly something to get excited about.
Although, they try to rewrite history to keep things fresh. What we have is basically It’s a Wonderful Life but with an Ogre instead of Jimmy Stewart. Brilliant! After a going through a fair few adventures, Shrek and Fiona have settled into family life with their triplet Ogre children. They are still friends with Donkey, Dragon and their weird hybrid kids. Although, reaching middle age, Shrek is starting to regret how far removed he has become from the Ogre he used to be. No longer the scary monster people were so keen to destroy, he is finding it difficult to adjust to life as a celebrity. So, he makes a deal with a super sketchy guy to have one day as the man he once was. Obviously, of course, there are some pretty dire consequences.
Those consequences create a universe in which Shrek was never born so all of your favourite characters now live a terrible life. Fiona is still cursed, Donkey is still enslaved, Puss is a fat house-cat, Gingey is a cage fighter. Yes, it doesn’t all make sense but it’s fine. As long as someone out there laughs who cares if anything makes sense. You see, the obviously creepy guy was Rumpelstiltskin who has been trying to take over Far Far Away since way before Shrek saved Fiona in the tower. He blames Shrek and plans to trick him out of a day of his life: the day he was born. Then the shit hits the fan and Shrek spends the rest of the film trying to get Fiona to fall back in love with him before it’s too late.
Shrek Forever After is a fairly interesting concept but it lacks so much of what made the original film so good. Shrek came out in 2001 and was, in a way revolutionary. It was taking the piss out of Disney and it’s well-know animated films. Taking pot-shots and being slightly risque whilst still being child-friendly. Shrek Forever After is just a desperate attempt to get back to some of that with constant references to that earlier film. I mean it’s better than the third film but that’s the least amount of comfort we can take from it. There is some heart and emotion here but it’s all taking too much from the first film and offering little of it’s own. The villain is an obvious link to Lord Farquaad but is not developed enough to make him worth fearing or hating too much. This is one of those films that mostly serves up in-jokes and easy nostalgia without taking too many risks. It’s not the worst in the series but, as the last film, it needed to be better.