This is really the end, we promise!
Going Rate: Worth matinee price. 3D not necessary.
Starring: Voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas
Red Flags: Some gross humor, but nothing the kids haven't already heard
The fourth installment of the Shrek franchise will make money, lots of money, and it will provide some financial bread and butter for its principals. And oh yeah, we can sell it in 3D. Those are reasons enough to greenlight another sequel to a saga that should've ended one picture ago.
So much of what was appealing in the first three films is absent, most notably its wry digs at pop culture. Shrek had become the ultimate Fractured Fairy Tale. Now, having wrapped itself up, the green ogre and company are forced to reboot in a hybrid of It's A Wonderful Life and Sleeping Beauty.
Briefly, married life is getting too routine for Shrek (Myers): tending to wife Fiona (Diaz) kids, chores, dinner with Donkey (Murphy), Puss (Banderas) and friends, cleaning the outhouse, putting up with the tourist buses, yadda yadda yadda. Hardly a moment to scare anybody anymore. A kids' birthday party gone bad leaves the Green One with a desire to get back to his ugly roots. Overhearing this is shyster Rumpelstiltskin, who offers Shrek a deal to go back in time for one day in exchange for a day of the ogre's past. After the deal is sealed, however, Shrek learns it's the day he was born, erasing his past and forcing him to put his life back together.
Shrek Forever After has some inspired moments. I'll never think of The Carpenters' "Top Of The World" the same way after I saw it here. But so much seems stale and overdone. It's time for this story to end, truly end, and go off into the land of DVD's to be played over and over by the kids during those long car trips.