Massawyrm says that SHREK FOREVER AFTER is better than the last, but the magic is still gone.
Published at: May 20, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
When you set out to forge a franchise, it is important to remember that making sequels means staying true to what your franchise is about, over further developing its characters. It might sound counter intuitive – which is why so many people fuck it up – but it has long been proven time and again to be the case. James Bond proves endlessly entertaining staying true to what the Bond Series is about, while the LETHAL WEAPON movies wore out their welcome once they stopped being LETHAL WEAPON movies and started just focusing on the ever swelling cast surrounding Murtaugh and Riggs.
Guess which franchise SHREK is most like?
The most amusing thing about SHREK FOREVER AFTER is that it is effectively the Ice Cube story.
Once upon a time there was this bad ass ogre who lived in the forest. But then, after two movies, he ended up getting everything he ever wanted. Friends, a wife, kids and was living, yes, happily ever after. But after a miserable third film and more cash yet to bilk from unsuspecting theater-goers, Shrek decides – after a deliberately annoying montage of screaming babies, friends coming over repeatedly and his wife saying the same jokes day after day – that he misses being the cold, mean mother fucker who used to live in the forest and scare the living shit out of people.
Why? Because at this point in the series, the only thing they can think to do is take away everything Shrek has in order to get him to utter the now banal realization that “I didn’t know what I had until it was gone.” So now Shrek is stuck in an alternate universe in which he was never born, requiring him to make friends with Donkey and Puss again, woo his princess again and defeat an evil king. Again.
The reason SHREK is such a beloved animation classic is *not* because Mike Myers plays a big green Ogre. It is *not* because he is surrounded by a lovable cast of characters. It is because it was a scathing, hilarious parody of fairy tales, painstakingly mocking the naivety of our youth. When Princess Fiona found a nest of eggs while singing, only to slowly dissolve to her cooking them for breakfast, I just about fell out of my chair. It was such a brilliantly jaded jab at the Disney films of old that proved to be the high water mark of a very smart, very funny film. When it debuted on VHS & DVD, I was still working in a video store which allowed us to show rated G and PG animated films over the video system. After complaints from parents, we were ordered by corporate to never show SHREK before 8PM. Apparently, it was a film too subversive for daytime viewing.
Fast forward 9 years. There is *nothing* subversive about SHREK FOREVER AFTER. There is nothing biting about SHREK FOREVER AFTER. In fact, there is very little funny at all about SHREK FOREVER AFTER. It is a limp, made for TV quality kids film that has fallen into the trap of being everything the original was satirizing – pre-made, saccharine, fairy tale bullshit. So not only did Shrek end up forgetting his hardcore roots, so too did the franchise.
While this is nowhere near as terrible as the third installment, which tried desperately to find something, anything, for its ever growing cast of characters to do, this film is wise enough to gear the plot around an idea that makes it more natural to add them all into the mix. Thankfully, about half of the background characters who kept appearing over and over again have found their way out of the series, but enough of them are around to remind you how long ago they wore out their welcome. The Gingerbread Man will never be funnier than he was in the first film, nor will Pinocchio – but that doesn’t stop them from trying here.
The kids will like it. After all, it is just a kids series now and it hits that mark just fine. Dreamworks has finally gotten over their incessant insertion of pop culture references and this feels much more like a real story – but it is a tired and weak one lacking any of the heart present in the stories it is clearly ripping off. Adults won’t get nearly as much out of this as their kids will; in fact, if anything, it will only make you pine for the sharp wit of the first two films. If mediocrity had a baseline, this would pretty much be it. Unless you’re a diehard fan of the character - salivating for more green ogre - or have kids clamoring to see it, there is almost no reason to revisit this world.
Until next time friends,