DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: Ogre Franchise Finale Out on DVD
As first adapted to the screen in 2001 from William Steig’s popular children’s book, Shrek was an enchanting fairy tale with a marvelous moral about appreciating each other’s inner beauty. While delivering that heartwarming message, the picture kept you in stitches via the hilarious antics of the title character (Mike Myers) and his trash-talking companion, Donkey (Eddie Murphy).
But judging by Shrek Forever After it is clear that the scriptwriters have run out of ideas for the franchise. This uninspired finale is set after the conclusion of the original, thereby inexplicably ignoring the developments of Shreks 2 and 3.
At the point of departure, we find the lovable ogre living in the swamp with Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and their three kids. However, he’s already grown discontent with married life and with the fact that he’s no longer feared by the local villagers.
So, he enters a pact with Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) who promises to transform him back into his former scary self for a day. Shrek signs a contract without reading the fine print, which says that after the 24-hour period expires he will disappear as if he had never even existed.
Consequently, Shrek finds himself transported back in time to but before he ever met Donkey and his other pals, or even his wife. Saddled with overwhelming regret, he realizes that his only hope to reverse the curse rests in the agreement’s escape clause which is triggered only if he kisses Princess Fiona.
Of course, this proves easier said than done, since he must first locate and then convince her that he’s not a stranger but already her husband in a parallel reality. Furthermore, Rumpelstiltskin, just like the villain of Shrek 1, is a dwarf with designs on the throne of the land of Far, Far Away. Another similarity has Shrek again befriending Donkey before embarking on a quest to rescue both the fair maiden and her family’s peaceable kingdom.
Unfortunately, the dialogue, unlike Shrek 1’s which was formerly marked by witty repartee and clever allusions to classic cartons and nursery rhymes, has been replaced by unimaginative exchanges lifted out of the hack screenplay handbook. In particular, Ebonics-accented Donkey has become an offensive caricature trading in a number of best-forgotten stereotypes.
A dumbed-down ripoff strictly for the tyke demographic too young to notice that the flick’s a thinly-veiled retread.
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG for crude humor, action and brief mild epithets.
Running time: 93 Minutes
Studio: Dreamworks Home Entertainment
Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Spotlight on Shrek; Secrets of Shrek Forever After; deleted scenes; filmmakers’ commentary; “The Making of” Shrek the Musical; The Animators’ Corner; Shrek’s Interactive Journey; Spotlight on Shrek; conversation with the cast; The Tech of Shrek Forever After; Shrek, Rattle & Roll (music and more); Donkey’s Caroling Christmas-tacular; Shrek’s Yule Log; 12 Days of Christmas pop-up book; Donkey’s Decoration Scramble; and Cookin’ with Cookie.