The film also marks the first time that the Shrek universe has been rendered in 3D, and although it’s initially pretty impressive, there does reach a point at which the novelty wears off and the added dimension just becomes an annoyance. It’s worth nothing, however, that the distracting glasses can’t entirely diminish what is otherwise a terrifically entertaining piece of work, and it does seem clear that those fans who wrote the series off after the underwhelming third film will find themselves pleasantly surprised by what’s being billed as the final go-around for everyone’s favorite ogre.
When we last saw them, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) found themselves confronted with the prospect of raising ogre triplets. And as this latest installment opens, Shrek has certainly settled into domestic life better than even he might’ve expected. But as the weeks and months go by, Shrek’s daily routine – a visit from photo-taking tourists, dinner with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and other friends, etc – has started to take its toll and the big green guy begins to long for the solitary existence he once took for granted.
Enter Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). The evil Brothers Grimm character has been attempting to steal control of Far Far Away for years, after almost convincing its King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews) to sign over their kingdom in exchange for Princess Fiona’s freedom (who was, at the time, still locked away in that tower). Rumpelstiltskin – or Rumpel, as he comes to be known – works his devious magic on Shrek by promising the ogre 24 hours of solitary bliss, with the catch being that Shrek, in return, will have to sacrifice a single day from his past.
Shrek quickly agrees, thinking that he’ll just give up a forgotten day from his childhood, but Rumpel double-crosses Shrek and instead takes the day he was born. Shrek’s elation at once again being a feared ogre inevitably turns to horror as he realizes that Rumpel has erased him from existence and transformed Far Far Away into an oppressive, witch-friendly wasteland, which leaves Shrek with little choice but to attempt to break the curse – with his first step regaining the trust and friendship of Fiona, Donkey, and even Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas).
The Voice Cast
There’s little doubt that Mike Myers’ now-iconic take on the title character remains a highlight within Shrek Forever After, as the former Saturday Night Live cast member does a superb job of capturing the many facets of Shrek’s larger-than-life personality. Cameron Diaz fares just as well with Fiona, with the character’s transformation into a fierce warrior made all-the-more believable due to Diaz’s impressive voice work. And then there’s Eddie Murphy’s turn as the lovable Donkey, with the actor’s rapid-fire, frequently hilarious performance heightened by the genuine chemistry between Donkey and Shrek. The various newcomers to the Shrek universe, including Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, and Craig Robinson, manage to make the most out of their limited screen time (you have to love Robinson’s recurring “chimichanga” bit), but really, this is Myers, Diaz, and Murphy’s show from start to finish.
The Bottom Line
Shrek Forever After has been jam-packed with all of the attributes that have made this series such a success, with the movie’s back-to-basics approach ensuring that children and adults alike will find plenty here worth embracing. The emphasis on skewed fairy-tale elements results in plenty of laughs, and it’s certainly difficult to recall a more compelling comedic twosome than Shrek and Donkey. It’s the heart that lies at the center of the story that ultimately separates Shrek Forever After from its animated cousins, however, as the ongoing romantic stuff between Shrek and Fiona is far more touching and emotionally-engaging than most live-action films. If this indeed does prove to be Shrek’s final adventure, we really couldn’t have hoped for a more fitting send off.
Shrek Forever After was directed by Mike Mitchell and is rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.
Theatrical Release Date: May 21, 2010