The original Shrek movie was fantastic, and the sequel wasn’t too bad, but the third Shrek movie was just too much, and it made me wonder how enjoyable Shrek Forever After would be. I was pleasantly surprised.
It all starts out with a male voice reading from a book about how Princess Fiona was cursed, how she needed to be saved, and then it cut to the King and Queen of Far Far Away going to this really shady part of the country. There were witches everywhere, and they were discussing how they wanted Fiona to be cured but at what cost. They were on their way to meet with Rumpelstiltskin, who is voiced by Walt Dohrn, and their goal was to sign a deal with him, curing Fiona. The major stipulation was that in order to get something, you have to give up something. In their case, it was relinquishing the entire kingdom to Rumpelstiltskin.
Fortunately for Far Far Away, the King was interrupted right before signing the deal by a guard of his, who informed him that Princess Fiona had been rescued. If you’ve seen the previous Shrek films, you’d know that it was Shrek who rescued Fiona from the tower.
After that intro, we see Shrek go through the daily motions of life. Get woken up by the kids, feed them, change them, have no time for yourself, and because he is no longer feared, he must endure daily Hollywood-style tour bus visits to his house. For parents, the life Shrek has seems incredibly familiar, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that he starts to wear down.
His major breaking point is on the triplets 1st birthday, at their party, in front of a crowd of guests. Everything starts to overwhelm him, and he snaps. Shrek goes outside, quickly followed by Fiona, and Shrek really screws up by saying how he wished life was back to the way it used to be, when people feared him, and when he had the freedom to do whatever he wanted, when he wanted. Fiona, being obviously hurt by his words, basically asked him if he meant the way things were before he rescued her from the tower, and Shrek, being an idiot, said “yes.” Fiona then told him how he has three wonderful children, a wife who loves him, and tons of friends who adore him, so it was a pity that he couldn’t see that he has everything he could ever want.
Rumpelstiltskin, being the sneaky little bastard, overheard the entire conversation. Having a massive hatred for Shrek, he then came up with a plan to trick Shrek into signing one of his deals. Eventually Rumpelstiltskin gets to Shrek, and Shrek then signs a deal giving him a full 24 hours of being a true Ogre again, but in return Shrek had to lose a day.
Now, losing a day to gain a day where it’s everything you could ever dream of doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. Especially when the deal then includes that it’s a day from when you were a baby, a day you wouldn’t even remember. Shrek signs the deal, and he is transported to the alternate world where he is feared by all.
Everything seems great until he sees tons of ‘WANTED’ posters everywhere. At first he sees just his face and thinks it’s great, but then he sees Fiona on them and starts to worry. He goes to his swamp, where the house he used to have is just an empty mound of dirt, and before he can continue his hunt for Fiona, he is captured by a group of witches. Shrek is brought back to the castle, while on the way there he sees that Far Far Away is horribly dilapidated, and it’s obvious that Rumpelstiltskin is in control.
Rumpelstiltskin, upon seeing Shrek, makes a huge speech to the witches in the ballroom on how if it weren’t for Shrek, none of their successes would’ve been possible. Shrek, being obviously confused, is then told what happened. The King and Queen ended up signing the deal with Rumpelstiltskin, and even though they were told their worries would disappear, they never thought that it would be them who would fade away. As a result, Fiona was never rescued, so her curse hasn’t been broken. Shrek, incredibly determined to stop Rumpelstiltskin is then given crushing news – he only has until sunrise the following day to live.
When signing the deal with Rumpelstiltskin, it was only written that a day from his childhood would be taken away. Shrek probably didn’t even think that Rumpelstiltskin would be so wicked that he would take away the day he was born. In the original reality, Shrek doesn’t exist, which means his life with Fiona doesn’t exist, nor do his children. Visibly angered, Rumpelstiltskin tells him that there is nothing he can do to change it, and that when the sun rises, he will disappear.
The rest of the movie is dedicated to him finding Fiona, coming across his old friends who have no idea who he is, and then trying to find a way to defeat Rumpelstiltskin.
The interactions between him and Donkey are hilarious. At first, Donkey thinks that Shrek is insane, so Shrek has to try and convince Donkey that he is a dear friend of his. Fiona is also confused because Shrek goes on about how they are married, how they have children, and what not, but doesn’t properly explain what happened with the Rumpelstiltskin deal, so she is forced to think that he’s crazed in the head.
Two characters that stood out were the Gingerbread Man and Puss. Because Puss is no longer the swordsman he was, he has really let himself go. Being babied by Fiona surely didn’t help, but when he gets so out of breath from doing nothing, you can’t help but laugh. Gingy is forced to fight like a Gladiator against animal crackers in this mini arena, and eventually Puss and Gingy meet. I won’t say what happens between the two, but just know that I laughed.
Unlike other kids movies, Shrek presents adults with some serious questions. If you could give up a day of your life, just to have a solid 24 hours of how you’d like your life to be, would you do it? At what cost? How much are you willing to sacrifice just to have your old life? Surely Shrek never meant to not exist, to erase his children, and lose the love of Fiona, but he was blinded by his strong desires. It’s always hard making that transition from adolescent to adult, and equally hard finding your role as a parent and spouse, so DreamWorks really hit the nail on the head with that.
One of the best things about the movie was the credits. Staying true to the rest of the films, the ending credits were great. It originally was the same ending where everybody sings, dances, and interacts with each other, but when they did the proper movie credits, it was this beautiful timeline of the other three movies. Obviously we sat and stayed through them all, so if you like it when movies have unique credits, then be sure to hang out in your seats for a few more minutes.
All in all, I found it to be really enjoyable, and definitely worth seeing in theaters. We didn’t see it in 3-D, so I couldn’t tell you about that, and the decision was mainly due to 3-D giving headaches. We all didn’t feel like potentially ending up with migraines today.
If you can see Shrek in theaters, go and see it. If you can’t be sure to pick it up once it comes out on DVD. You won’t be disappointed.