Monday, May 24, 2010

Lax Shrek

I'm not sure if Shrek Forever After, a movie being touted as the final chapter of Shrek, will end up being worse than Shrek Back For More, the next "last chapter of Shrek" that will be released in 2013. Oh sure, they swear that this is it but the $72 million opening weekend says there will be at least 8 more final chapters. As for this movie? It was okay, except when it wasn't. I have the feeling I will regard it the same way I regard the third film. What I mean by that is I had no memory of the third film until I looked it up. I wasn't even sure I had seen it until the Wikipedia synopsis reminded me that it was about a teenage King Arthur voiced by Justin Timberlake. I think I'll remember the plot of Shrek Forever After though I couldn't swear to it.

The new film has the same combination of postmodernism and pop culture references that made the first film memorable and the other two less so. This one, though, is in 3D, a fact that adds two things. One of those is jack, the other, shit.

Anyhoo, Shrek has settled uneasily into domestic life with Fiona and their three children. At first, all is well until each one of Shrek's days becomes a rerun of the previous one. Shrek finds that changing diapers, hearing his wife tell the same joke every day and having to fix the toilet nonstop gets old fast. Even worse for Shrek, he's now well regarded in the community. A star tour carriage goes by his house every day, usually just as he's heading into the outhouse. People are no longer intimidated by his presence or even his mighty roar. A lot of people feel this way, of course, but I'd guess the majority of those people don't have access to magical beings who can bend time and space to their will. Speaking of which, Shrek meets Rumplestiltskin, a magical being who bend time and space to his will.

Rumplestiltskin, possibly the only character in the movie not voiced by a famous actor, has hit the skids in recent years since people found out that he always adds godawful conditions to his magical transactions. Luckily for the scheming little elf/gnome/whatever, Shrek doesn't know this so he agrees to give Rumple a day of his life in exchange for a day to live "as a real ogre." Rumple takes the day Shrek was born which means he never existed. Thus, we get a kids movie version of It's A Wonderful Life except that, this being the final chapter, everyone dies. But I kid. Shrek movies are always very gentle. No one could really die anymore than this could actually be the final chapter.

Shrek Forever After has its moments. Not enough, of course, and certainly not enough to justify the jacked up price for a 3D film. Did I mention 3D added nothing to the film? It wasn't a distraction like it was in Clash of the Titans. You also had the usual tricks where things get thrown at the screen so they can come flying at you but, really, there was no reason for this to be in 3D other than to have parents fret over paying higher ticket prices so they could appease their screaming kids who firmly swore that they'd rather be dead than miss Shrek and that they would never, ever ask for anything ever again, something they'll repeat when the next Shrek film comes out.

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