Review: Shrek Forever After – Shrek Forever And Always (2010)

Shrek Forever After – Shrek Forever And Always (2010)

Directed by: Mike Mitchell | 93 minutes | animation, comedy, adventure, family, fantasy | Original voice cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Julie Andrews, Antonio Banderas, Jon Hamm, Justin Timberlake, Maya Rudolph, Kathy Griffin, Amy Sedaris, Craig Robinson, Eric Idle, Kristen Schaal, Regis Philbin, Larry King, Chris Miller , Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, Cody Cameron, Walt Dohrn, Aron Warner | Dutch voice cast: Peter Blok, Angela Schijf, Carlo Boszhard, Jon van Eerd, Wim van Rooij, Beatrijs Sluijter, Paul Groot, Susan Smit, Jeroen Nieuwenhuize, Ramon Beuk, Olaf Wijnants

Shrek’s (Mike Myers) life has changed a lot over the past ten years. Once a terrifying green monster that ravaged the kingdom of Far Far Away, those days are long behind him. The years have softened him. He is happily married to Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and together they have three little ones. The people of Far Far Away are no longer afraid of him. In fact, they seek him out on their own: Shrek has become a tourist attraction. What is going on? Is he still himself? Now is this what they call happiness? If everyone at their children’s birthday party just keeps whining and the cake also fails to make matters worse, then it’s enough: Shrek doesn’t want it that way anymore! He longs for his old life, in which he could once again play the wild man and scare the people. He cries out, much to Fiona’s chagrin. She’s mad at him for disrupting the party with his tantrum. Shrek exits through the side door.

Anyone who knows Shrek a little won’t be surprised that he is in a midlife crisis in ‘Shrek Forever After’ (2010). An exemplary life with wife and children, that is really nothing for the surly, large green ogre with the small heart. Depression, in whatever form, had to happen at some point. His life is turned upside down when the devilish Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) hears his wish to experience what it’s like to be a real ogre again for one day and makes him a proposal. In exchange for that one day of being an old-fashioned beast, Rumplestiltskin only asks for one other day, from Shrek’s early years, in return. Shrek just needs to sign. Of course, the proposal turns out not to be as beautiful as Rumplestiltskin makes it seem, because Shrek ends up in another reality, where no one knows him. Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss (Antonio Banderas) and also Fiona have no idea who he is. Far Far Away Has Changed is a grim, apocalyptic city where Rumplestiltskin and his army of witches rule. There’s only one way to break the spell: Shrek has to let his great love Fiona kiss him. In this dark world, she is a tough resistance fighter, who is not distracted from her task to free the oppressed ogres. Shrek has until dawn to convince her that they are meant for each other…

‘Shrek’ (2001) was a bull’s eye for DreamWorks. The film was original, refreshing and, thanks to its numerous references to popular culture, it appealed not only to children but also to adults. The gruff green ogre Shrek, an anti-hero at first glance, was instantly embraced by millions of people around the world. ‘Shrek 2’ (2004) also reached a high level. The joke density in that movie was even greater than in the first movie. Things went wrong with ‘Shrek the Third’ (2007), however. The third film turned out to be a poor version of the once surprising original. Was the cake finished now? The makers thought not and launched ‘Shrek Forever After’, emphasizing that this really is the last part in the series. With this film, they give Shrek fans the opportunity to say a dignified goodbye to their green friend and his companions Fiona, Donkey and Puss. Because let’s be honest, you can hardly call the failed ‘Shrek the Third’ a worthy goodbye. Fortunately, ‘Shrek Forever After’ makes up for a lot, because in terms of level this fourth film hooks up again with parts 1 and 2. Of course, the novelty has worn off, but at least we get another vibrant and entertaining film that gives us gets to the heart.

Even now, the references to film, television and music are again ubiquitous. References to ‘Harry Potter’, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ (1946), ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (1939) and ‘Groudhog Day’ (1993) are not to be missed. Yet they do not predominate. Now it’s about the story and luckily that story is about something again. It has returned the heart and soul that were so badly missed in the third part. In addition, it is nice to see the familiar figures in a different capacity, in the alternative reality created by Rumplestiltskin. Fiona as the tough warrior who will stop at nothing; Puss as a full-fledged house cat, complete with pink bow and Donkey… Well, he just stays Donkey. Their roles may be slightly smaller than in the other films, but Puss and Donkey still steal the show with their comedic escapades. Especially the obese but always hilarious Puss has the laughs on the hand with his antics. Clear course is made for Rumplestiltskin, who is a welcome addition to the cast with his satanic traits and villainous tricks. Newcomer Walt Dohrn, an artist in daily life at DreamWorks, portrays him wonderfully hysterical.

Like most cartoons that appear in cinemas these days, ‘Shrek Forever After’ also had to be released in a 3D version. DreamWorks also has to keep up with the times, doesn’t it? However, that third dimension has – apart from a few action scenes – little added value. Much more important is the fact that the ‘Shrek’ series has returned to its former level after a short dip (part 3). Right on time, because if we are to believe the makers, they are now really putting an end to it. However, don’t be surprised if, should ‘Shrek Forever After’ do very well in the cinemas, they will come back to that decision. But for the viewer, the story is now complete. ‘Shrek Forever After’ has become, perhaps against the odds, a very amusing farewell to the big green ogre with the little heart.

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