Saturday, 19 June 2010
FILM REVIEW: SHREK FOREVER AFTER
Now Showing (in 2D and 3D)
It's not easy being green sang Kermit the frog, and Shrek would concur. This fourth (and promised to be last ) installment in DreamWorks' successful animated franchise sees the ogre (voiced again by Mike Myers) married to true love, Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), and the father of three green bundles of joy. Except Shrek isn't feeling so joyful. He's having a midlife crisis, longing for his bachelor days when he had a swamp to himself and people feared him: now, he's a celebrity and tourist attraction.
Following a meltdown at his kids' birthday party, Shrek happens upon Rumplestiltskin, an embittered litle man with a knack for evil legalese: he can make your dreams come true if you simply sign a contract giving him one day out of your life in return.
Shrek, wishing for his pre-marital existance, foolishly signs on the dotted line (without reading the fine print) and before you can say 'It's A Wonderful Life', the ogre is transported into a parallel Far Far Away where he never existed. Oh, yes, and Rumplestiltskin is king.
And the little guy likes to surround himself with witches; their flying sequences one of the justifications for filming this fourth installment in 3D. It also adds a darker tone to the colour palette which is in keeping with the story's darker themes, but I'm guessing that's more coincidental than intentional (you won't miss anything by catching Shrek Forever After in 2D).
The 'what if I never existed' storyline is also a hoary old chestnut, perfected in Frank Capra's classic, It's A Wonderful Life, and imitated, for better or worse, ever since. In a children's film it serves as morality tale: be careful what you wish for, or more pertinently, be happy for what you've got, especially if it's a loving family.
But animation is no longer just for kids and adults don't go to the movies for moral lessons (even if some should). Having Shrek never exist in this parallel world provides the joy of having us re-introduced to the series' best characters: Donkey (Eddie Murphy), who's as endearingly annoying as ever, and Puss-In-Boots (Antonio Banderas), the Latin assassin who's let himself go. Both actors are in fine form once again, reminding us why we fell for them in the first place.
Of course everything works itself out in the end; the Shrek series of films may have begun by fracturing fairy tales but they never skimped on the happy ending. And if this is to be the last of the Shrek films, than Forever After ends the series well; not so much on a high but with a fond farewell.