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shrek-forever-after-poster Movie:Shrek Forever After
In Theaters: May 21, 2010
Director: Mike Mitchell
Runtime: 93 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for mild action, some rude humor, and brief language
Film Gecko Rating: 4 Gecko

By the time a popular franchise gets to the fourth movie, you kind of expect that it’ll start to fizzle out. That’s not the case with ‘Shrek Forever After.’ This movie not only gives a nod to the things we loved about the earlier movies, but it also moves the story forward in a believable way. It doesn’t seem forced, as you might imagine it would at this point, and the characters get to stretch a little. That’s saying a lot for a CG-animated family movie.

The story begins with Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) smack in the middle of domestic bliss. He and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) have three kids now, and while that’s all fine and good, it gets old fast for the big green guy. Every day is the same, and they usually include Shrek having to fix the plumbing in the outhouse.

That’s a dull life for a guy who once rescued a beautiful princess from an evil dragon, saving his in-laws’ kingdom in the process. Instead of scaring villagers away like he used to, now Shrek is autographing pitchforks and doing his ogre roar for kids at a birthday party.

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But then he finds himself in a position to change all that and become a real ogre again – at least for a day. Thanks to the smooth-talking, deliciously evil Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohm), Shrek ends up signing a deal to be an ogre for a day. The only catch? He needs to give up a day, any day, from his past.

Suddenly, Shrek is in an alternate version of Far Far Away. Now it’s a place where ogres are hunted, where Rumpelstiltskin is king, and where Shrek and Fiona have never met. In fact, Fiona is now the leader of a resistance force whose goal is to fight Rumpel and his ogre-napping witches. Fiona is fierce, independent, and a darn good fighter. She also knows nothing of her and Shrek’s relationship, which depresses him to no end, but also makes him realize a few truths about himself.

Some of my favorite scenes in the movie involve Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), now a fat cat who’s too lazy to chase after mice right in front of him, and Donkey (Eddie Murphy), who still manages to be very funny (and musical – what a great singer Murphy is), even though he’s hooked to a cart hauling witches around.

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There’s also lots of great voice talent in this movie, which you’ll probably miss unless you’re listening for them: Jane Lynch (Gretched), Lake Bell (Patrol Witch), Kathy Griffin (Dancing Witch), Mary Kay Place (Guard Witch), Ryan Seacrest (Father of Butter Pants), and Meredith Vieira (Broomsy Witch), among others. It’s as if everyone knew this was the last ‘Shrek’ movie (so they say), and wanted to be part of it.

If it IS the last, they’re going out on a good note. If not, I’ll look forward to more installments in the future. It’s a good example of writers and filmmakers who know how to keep a franchise fresh through the years.

I also saw the 3D version of ‘Shrek Forever After’ and think it’s worthwhile to go this route if you like 3D movies. I can’t comment on the IMAX version, although did have a few thoughts about the skyrocketing cost of movie tickets in this story on WalletPop.

NOTES FOR PARENTS:

Sex/Nudity: Rumpelstiltskin surrounds himself with sexy women; Donkey and his Dragon-wife flirt; and Shrek and Fiona flirt and kiss. In the alternate world, Fiona is a strong leader with some curves under her warrior outfit.

Violence/Gore. The ogres train and fight Rumpelstiltskin and his evil witches, and Gingy the Gingerbread Man fights animal crackers gladiator-style. Shrek and Fiona fight each other, but it ends up more romantic than violent.

Profanity: Mild insults, including “fat,” “stupid,” and “ass” (used to describe Donkey).

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 6 and older who liked the other Shrek films or CG-animated movies.

Will Parents Like It? I really liked this movie, because it brought in things from the previous movies, but also moved the story forward in a believable way.

Images: Paramount Pictures

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