Director: Mike Mitchell
Cast: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Walt Dohm, Antonio Banderas
What if you could go back in time and change history so that Shrek was never born? It's a question most parents (and other sane people) have asked themselves in the middle of Shreks 2 and 3, and the unstoppable franchise has gone on to answer it. Hopefully before actually stopping. There was nowhere else for them to go after plundering their writers' shallow imagination and wit, and so Shrek 4 (or Shrek: The Final Chapter, or Shrek Forever After if you fancy the idle threat) enters Capra territory with this final outing for the ogre and his friends.
Still living out their happy ever after, Shrek (Myers) and Fiona (Diaz) are a blissfully wed mother and father in an over-crowded swamp. But Shrek is tired of the same old routine; his swamp now a famous tourist attraction, no-one's afraid of him anymore. When kids meet him in the street, they merely demand that he "do the roar" in between munching on their toffee apples. So it's only natural that Shrek be tempted by the Faustian offer laid out to him by the evil Rumpelstiltskin (Dohm) - sign away 24 hours of his life, and things will go back to the way they were.
Much evil laughter and whizzing-through-the-sky effects later (Shrek 4 is, of course, in 3-D) and Shrek is back in his swamp. Alone. Donkey (Murphy) doesn't recognise him, Puss-in-Boots (Banderas) is fat and retired, and Rumpelstiltskin's ruling the kingdom. As for Fiona? Well, she's leading the ogre rebellion against the throne, unaware of Shrek's existence. It's a fresh new world for Mike Myers' Scottish monster to explore. It's just one also lacking in laughs.
It's a neat twist they've come up with for the now tired series, and Mike Mitchell runs with it as best he can. But one brilliant joke about animal biscuits aside, there's not much in the way of humour - Rumpelstiltskin changing wigs to suit his mood isn't a bad gag, but it's not exactly original. There aren't even that many nods to the first film, whose wit and ingenuity now feel far far away. Compared to that subversive CGI adventure, this just feels rather lazy. The fact that the villain's voiced by Walt Dohm, who is also the Head of Story, doesn't help with that one.
It all jumps along quickly enough, with flying sequences and exploding pumpkins galore, but there's no bounce to Shrek's gallumping plot; the idea that he has to woo Fiona again for the first time is dealt with in a single 2 minute scene. Deep. There was so much potential for a clever self-referential affair, but the half-arsed structure and unfunny lines are a waste of its cast - John Cleese's continued cameo is only topped by the shock of seeing Mad Men's Jon Hamm involved in it all. Don Draper as an ogre? How on earth did they swing that?
Not that the kids will be bothered. For them this is still fast-paced 3-D fun. Good for them. After all, Shrek 4 isn't terrible, it's just nothing special. Like everything in life, it's better than Shrek 3, but the initial impact has long gone. The graphics are still mildly impressive but like the three-dimensional format being thrown in your face, the novelty factor has worn off.
You'll leave Shrek Forever After thinking it's a wonderful life. Mostly because you'll never have to sit through a Shrek film again.
- cameron diaz
- eddie murphy
- john cleese
- mike myers
- princess fiona