Shrek Forever After bears little of its original appeal
Featuring the voices of Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz. Rated G. Opens Friday, May 21
Shrek Forever After is the fourth and final installment in the ridiculously successful animated franchise. As usual, it stars a big-hearted ogre nimbly voiced by Mike Myers. It’s hard not to like a character who resembles a sunny cross between Ernest Borgnine and an overripe avocado. But—even in 3-D—the novelty is wearing noticeably thin. In a premise that reeks of Beverly Hills angst, director Mike Mitchell teams up with screenwriters Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke to concoct a story in which Shrek is suffering from postmarital stress.
Watch the trailer for Shrek Forever After.
Married to the doting Princess Fiona (the voice of Cameron Diaz) and the proud father of three infants who look like something you’d cough up during an extended bout of bronchitis, our hero should be wallowing in wedded bliss. But he’s become so domesticated that nobody in Far Far Away takes him seriously as an ogre anymore. Longing for the days when he was terrifying, Shrek makes a deal with the evil Rumpelstiltskin (a wig-wearing martinet voiced by Walt Dohrn).
Shrek thinks he’s merely taking a temporary vacation from his married life in order to get back to his roots. But Rumpelstiltskin conjures up a spell that thrusts them into an alternate reality where ogres have become slaves of—you guessed it—Rumpelstiltskin. Not even Shrek’s best friend, Donkey (Eddie Murphy), knows who he is. To make matters worse, Fiona is now a rebel leader who has no interest in Shrek whatsoever.
What follows is a mixed bag that’s heavy on action and sparse in laughs. Taking full advantage of sequences inspired by everything from Braveheart to The Wizard of Oz, the 3-D special effects are impressive. But the original charm of the series is in distressingly short supply. No wonder it’s time to pull the plug.