By Ashley Hillard
Continuing to wring every last drop out of the franchise, Dreamworks’ Animation resurrects the emerald-colored Scot ogre for another bout. And though “Shrek Forever After” isn’t as disappointing as the third installment (the dire “Shrek the Third”; it’s director, Mike Mitchell, is back for this one), it’s still no match for that fabulously-fun and deliciously-written first chapter.
First, those lending their lungs to the project : The series staples are back – Mike Myers as Shrek, Cameron Diaz as Fiona, Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Julie Andrews as Queen and Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots (If you love ‘Puss’, you’ll love this – he’s the most entertaining chaacter in the film. Oh, and he’s also getting his own spin-off shortly). Also volunteering a voice this time around, Ryan Seacrest, Jon Hamm (of “Mad Men”), Jane Lynch, Lake Bell, Craig Robinson, Kathy Griffin and Mary Kay Place.
Can’t go wrong with that bunch, right!?
Unfortunately a great cast does not always equate a widely interesting array of characters – as is most certainly the case here. Problem is, the characters get old. And quickly. Especially Shrek. Even the funniest side character, an annoying kid known as Butter Pants, outstays his welcome by his second appearance. Maybe it’s just the idea that’s gotten old? Whatever the case, there’s something a little stale about Shrek’s final hurrah.
Writers Josh Klausner (”Date Night”) and Darren Lemke (”Lost”) have penned a yarn examining the frustrations of Dad’s who find the work/parenthood juggle a bit of a struggle.
Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) offers to help weary dad Shrek (Myers) out – for a price, of course. What’s an ogre to do? In his desperation to return to his former life, back before he had a zillion ankle biters demanding his attention 24-7, if even just for a day, Shrek makes a deal with the Far Far Away devil and has to spend the rest of the movie undoing what he’s done. “Be happy with what you have”, the movie reminds us.
Yep, “It’s a Wonderful Shrek Life” might have been a more fitting title.
Nice enough, and entertaining enough, but with the Shrek character the least interesting thing in the film, I might rather have seen “Shrek Forever After” focus more on it’s scary band of outsiders, like the witches that help Rumpelstiltskin, who reside outside the borders of Far Far Away. They’re such fun. In fact, the film’s opening scene, introducing a Halloween or Sleepy Hollow-like village hints might’ve been a great launch pad for the new film. Sadly, we leave that terrain and return to the Swamp we’ve been to time and time again before everyone’s even had a chance to put their 3D glasses on (speaking of, if you have a chance to save a few bucks and see the film in 2D – do it! The 3D adds nothing to the movie).
Here’s hoping the “Puss in Boots” spin-off has a bit more to offer.
A second disc featuring an all-new ‘Shrek’ short focusing on the character of ‘Donkey’. Bit of fun!