PLOT: Shrek (Myers) is back, but he's getting a little sick of everyone else. He wants to go back to having everyone fear him, so he makes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin (Dohrn), but is tricked and now Donkey (Murphy), Fiona (Diaz) and everyone else has no idea who he is.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Erase Shrek the Third from your mind. Those first two Shrek films were really good, weren't they? Well, if you think so, you'll enjoy this final installment.
EXPECTATIONS: I wasn't expecting much. After the third failed to delight me, I totally forgot about the series. I saw no reason for the fourth, when to me, the series was dead.
Mike Myers as Shrek: There is something sad about Myers failure to make audiences laugh. The Austin Powers character has grown old, The Love Guru was painful ... yet Shrek lives on. Somehow Shrek doesn't get the Myers taint on him. Shrek is back to having some passion. He's sick of the day in day out of raising a family. I assume most dad's will appreciate this at least a little bit. He wants a break from it all, and when that goes terribly wrong, you actually feel a little bad for him. Score: 7
Eddie Murphy as Donkey: Murphy just makes Donkey work. For him, it's probably just an excuse to sing a wide variety of songs. For me, the singing works, but not as well as the quick one-liners. It's one of those cases where the audience is laughing and you almost wish they wouldn't, so you can hear the next thing coming out of his mouth. My favorite? "Flip flop Fridays." Score: 9
Cameron Diaz as Fiona: It seems Fiona's main goal in the beginning is to point out Shrek should be happy with what he has. Then, in the alternative Shrek universe, without ever meeting her Orge of choice, she becomes a warrior princess. The concept that she goes from a princess, desperate to be rescued, to a strong woman who must rescue herself is a good one. Score: 7
Antonia Banderas as Puss in Boots: Almost purely comic relief, Puss is now a fat cat in body and mind. He's being taken care of by Fiona and likes bows in his hair and cream (heavy on the cream). It's amusing and even the animated kitty eyes work when he needs Donkey to lick him dry with "All By Myself" cranking in the background. Score: 7
Walt Dohrn as Rumpelstiltskin: An entertaining, crafty, amusing looking villain. That's all we need for these films and Dohrn does a great job with Rumpelstiltskin. Dohrn is actually in the animation department, and in an early screening he filled in as the voice. Well, everyone liked it so much, he stuck. I love stories like that, and was immediately rooting for him. Rumple and his pet Goose deliver. And if you disagree, then I'll have to get out my angry wig! You'll understand once you see Rumpelstiltskin in action. As Rumple says, "Nobody's smart but me!" Score: 8
TALKING: The jokes are back. At first it seems it could be a rehashing of "It's better out than in," but luckily that line is used more as a device to show the mundane repetition of Shrek's life. More important than the jokes, it's a basic story kids can follow and we can care about. Score: 7
SIGHTS: This movie made me remember that simply looking at the first Shrek movie is good times. There's great animated detail whether it's the slow-motion shots, or Donkey's unkempt coat. They use the 3D extremely well, especially with flying sequences. It's worth the extra money. Score: 8
SOUNDS: For Shrek films, it's typically about the songs. Well, prepare yourself now because there isn't a new song for the big song and dance finale. But the other songs are used quite well. Again, Donkey sings, but my favorite use of music was when Shrek goes back to being a feared Orge, and "Top of the World" accompanies his journey. Score: 8
BEST SCENE: The fat boy with the catchphrase "Do the roar!" at the birthday party will be what many people remember. I thought the action sequences looked great too. I'm going with Shrek being Shrek with "Top of the World."
ENDING: Again, there isn't an extremely fun dance parody like in the first Shrek, but that's OK. It's actually surprisingly sweet when Shrek gets back to where he belongs.
QUESTIONS: Before I sat down to watch, I imagined filling up this section of the review with, "Why won't this series just END!" Not anymore. I actually don't have any questions. It was a basic plot, so kids shouldn't have a tough time following along. If I was Rumple though, I wouldn't have an escape clause.
REWATCHABILITY: I would easily sit through another helping of this film. It's about an hour and a half, plenty of laughs, moves quickly along ... yup, no problem.
Shrek Forever After starts with "Happily Ever After" and then goes downhill. But it's not the downhill that I expected. After seeing Shrek the Third I thought I was done with these movies. I thought wrong. They brought back the story. Sure, it's a simple idea with Shrek accidentally erasing his identity like It's a Wonderful Life, but there's enough fresh comedy and action to get this to work. Rumpelstiltskin, the witches, and the Piped Piper are all creepy cool, evil additions. The cast of wolf, the three pigs and Pinocchio all get their moments, none as funny as the ginger bread man as a gladiator.
Let's play the "what if" game. You take away Shrek the Third and you have one of the top 5 trilogies of all time. Yes, I am being serious. The Shrek films toss together fairy tales and pop culture and just a little bit of heart in a very entertaining way. Shrek Forever After is a really good final chapter that brings back story, Donkey, Puss and Shrek. They're leaving on a high note.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10