Welcome to the land of Far Far Away for Shrek’s final chapter. I believe this just like I believed the Final Chapter of Friday the 13th and Freddy’s Final Nightmare. If I’ve learned one thing from the way the movie business model has been working these last few years, if a movie makes one dollar more than it costs to produce, chances are we will get another. Now I enjoy a large number of these CGI animated movies that have completely buried traditional animation, in fact given a choice between watching ‘Finding Nemo’ for like the tenth time or eating a piece of pie, I would probably watch ‘Finding Nemo’. And if you’ve ever seen me, it is clear that I’m the type of guy that really likes to eat pie. As it turns out the Shrek series would not be one of the CGI movies that I enjoy. Not at all. Personally I thought the original was tolerable while 2 and 3 were not very funny or amusing and only existed to show us how great the folks at Dreamworks can animate stuff. Of course Dreamworks is sitting on over A BILLION DOLLARS worth of Shrek receipts so if money talks then I’m sounding mighty silent right about now, but the fact remains, I just don’t think the Shrek movies are all that good. This of course leads us to the latest and ‘final’ Shrek movie, ‘Shrek Forever After’. Best Shrek Movie Ever. Temper that by remembering that I did think the best Shrek had done before this was tolerable, and thus I found this movie to be a little better than tolerable.
For disclosure’s the screener where I saw this movie was held at a 3D IMAX venue, and let me tell you it was something to behold, plus the theater was packed to the brim with happy, happy talkative children.
Apparently, as the story goes, what we didn’t know from the first film was that Fiona’s folks the King (John Cleese) and the Queen (Julie Andrews) were about to make a deal with the terribly unscrupulous Rumplestiltskin to break Fiona’s curse when Shrek slid in and gave Fiona ‘love’s true kiss’ which stopped that from happening. Fast forward a
couple of movies where Shrek is finding life with a wife and three kids, one filled with diapers, play dates, mundane chores and villagers who treat him as a side show act to be a life that is not all that cool. If only he could have one day to be a real ogre one more time again.
Hello Rumple (Walt Dohrn)! Rumple has been looking for an angle to get back the kingdom that he was so very close to stealing some years back and thus he tricks Shrek into signing away a day from his past for just one single day to terrorize villagers and roll in mud again. We can’t tell you the day that Shrek lost but just know that once the paper is signed everything is changed. King Rumple has oppressed Far Far Away into the dirt, none of Shrek’s friends know who the heck he is and of course Fiona (Cameron Diaz) has no clue who this idiot ogre is that is causing her so much grief. Fiona the Princess is now Fiona the Freedom Fighter leading her crew of Ogre, Ogre who have no idea that their leader turns into a normal looking princess in the daylight, against the forces of Rumple and his endless squad of angry witches.
Shrek needs to convince Fiona that he is her one true love before the day is out or something bad is going to happen. Naturally he has Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss n’ Boots (Antonio Banderas) on his side… but will it be enough? What would’ve been interesting to observe is have Shrek NOT have the prerequisite happy ending and see how 500 hostile kids high on pop and jujubes reacted to that. I would’ve paid good money to see that reaction Dreamworks.
The thing that’s always bugged me about the Shrek flicks is that the movies have always sacrificed storytelling for dance numbers, rock songs, one liners and pop references with whatever story they were trying to tell merely being something to fill in the gaps while the filmmakers showed us how funny and clever they can be. This one is pretty much the same way, but I guess I’m used to this by now because I did find this one more entertaining than the last three Shrek movies.
For starters the movie is insanely gorgeous. They might not know how to tell a halfway decent story at Dreamworks SKG Animation Studios, but good golly can they draw a pretty picture. The presentation in this movie is completely flawless. The animation, the sound, the characters is all without peer. The voice animation is also very good, as expected, with Donkey and Puss n’ Boots continuing to steal the show away from the higher marquied co-stars. Puss n’ Boots just kills me man.
The things I didn’t like too much about Shrek movies in the past are still there such as dance numbers, but I did find the dance numbers more tolerable this time around for whatever reason. There’s always a little humor that I’m sure is far beyond the little ones ability to comprehend and I’m still having a heckuva time wrapping my brain around the Donkey / Dragon relationship. And of course there is a preponderance of popular music that nobody under age of thirty five knows probably knows anything about. Personally I love The Carpenters and Lionel Richie, rocking some ‘Rainy Days and Mondays’ on the Zune even as we speak but maybe the kiddies might appreciate something that THEY can relate to. Like Lil Wayne or Paul Wall.
So a billion dollars in receipts can’t be wrong, right? Plus it’s for the kids anyway and the 500 or so kids who talked their way through this movie while I was watching it seem to have a good time and that’s main thing that matters. That, and us as ticket buyers making sure that 1 billion turns into close to 1.4 billion. I think we can make that happen for Dreamworks.