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'Shrek Forever After' forever disappointing

Movie review

May 25, 2010|By BOB GARVER / Special to The Herald-Mail

Everybody's favorite disgusting ogre is back for a fourth family film.

The 2001 original saw Shrek (Mike Myers) meet his best friend, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), and fall in love with his human-turned-ogre wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) after saving her from a curse.

In the 2004 sequel, Shrek made friends with Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) and got things off to a rocky start with King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), Fiona's parents.

The 2007 third installment was a collection of painful pop-culture jokes that I've blocked from my mind, but I do remember that Shrek and Fiona had ogre triplets.

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This would be Happily Ever After for Shrek, but the beginning of "Shrek Forever After" sees Shrek having problems with the "Ever After" part.

He's happy having a family, but he's not so happy with the idea of it affecting the rest of his life. He's definitely not happy spending so much time around crying babies, a nagging wife, a claptrap best friend, an irritating array of fairy tale creatures and an inexplicably adoring public that won't leave him alone. Shrek wants to be alone and feared again, a "real ogre," if only for a day.

Shrek meets up with shady dealmaker Rumpelstiltskin. Rumple's been having problems of his own since the first "Shrek" film. Fiona's parents were ready to sign their kingdom over to him in exchange for lifting the curse when they found out that Shrek had already broken it and called the deal off. Now nobody wants any of his deals. He wishes Shrek were never born.

Shrek and Rumple make a deal: Shrek will get a day to enjoy the kingdom being scared of him, and Rumple will take away day from Shrek's childhood.

Shrek is whisked away to a version of the world that Rumple promised and enjoys a day wallowing in filth and others' misery. When he's had his fill, he goes home to see his family. But Fiona, the kids and his home have all disappeared.

It turns out that Rumple took away the day that Shrek was born and now the whole world is twisted. With no one to rescue Fiona the first time, Rumple got to take over the kingdom. He now rules it with an iron fist with an army of wicked witches to do his bidding. Shrek has never met Fiona, Donkey, or any of his friends. Fiona is leading an ogre rebellion against Rumple and is tough and disillusioned in love. And Puss is too fat to even fit in his boots.

Shrek spends the rest of the film trying to break the contract by getting a kiss from Fiona (even in a fake-ish fairy tale, it's the only way to get out of a sticky situation).

Rumple tries to keep them apart, but like too many idiot villains, he thinks separating them by walls and chains in the same room is better than making one of them just go away.

Eventually it just gets to the point where you want them to kiss not because you're rooting for Shrek but because it's painful to watch the movie drag out the suspense.

"Shrek Forever After" is an odd way to end the franchise because the story starts out one way and then the battle is to get things back to the way they were, with no progression.

The highlights of the film involve Shrek being gross, Fiona being tough, Donkey being a yapper, Puss being fat, and Rumple trying to suck people into his contracts. It's not a lot of unique ground, but at least the film eases up on the lame pop culture references of the two sequels before it, and for that I'm grateful.

"Shrek Forever After" is rated PG for mild action, rude humor, and brief language. Running time is 1 hour, 55 minutes.

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