The last rays of sunlight stream down as the close of the holiday weekend hits. Sun tan lotion, hot dogs and macaroni salad, family and more movies. I know, I know... why would I spend time in a movie theater when the sun is shining? The answer, I am saving my skin from burning!
SYNOPSIS: Shrek, suffering from the new parent blues, harkens back to a simpler time where he could do what he wanted and was feared instead of adored. Rumpelstiltskin tricks Shrek into signing a magical contract that allows Shrek to have a day without responsibility, but erases his true existence with his friends and family as a result.
A cross between "Its a Wonderful Life" and "Robin Hood", "Shrek Forever After" turns all of the Shrek conventions on their ear. The opening of the film reveals that Rumpelstilskin was moments away from having the King of Far Far Away sign over his kingdom in order to free Princess Fiona from the Dragon's Keep, but a messenger relays that the Princess was rescued and the contract is torn up. Fast forward to the end of "Shrek 3" with Shrek and Princess Fiona and their three babies. Now Shrek wakes to the monotony of been a parent, the inability for a moment to himself, and the constant reminder that he is a celebrity instead of a calamity. Rumpelstilskin uses a moment of Shrek's weakness to trick him into signing a magical contract that seems innocuous but changes everything that Shrek knows the world to be.
What's the best way to make an aging franchise fresh again? Enter the classic George Bailey plot. What happens if you never saved the princess from the Dragon's Keep? What happens if you never met a talking donkey with a taste for waffles? What happens if you were never born? What happens when it's all a result of a magic-clad contract?
Although this installment is not the best nor the most original, it does manage to shine through in spots. Rumbelstilskin is a whiny, whacked out weasel of a villain. New and existing characters are used in funny and interesting ways. And the focus of the film returns to Shrek, Fiona and Donkey, which is refreshing.
Love and life lost and sacrificed. The end of the film supplies a couple tearful moments, which is fitting since it is the series' last farewell. If you have enjoyed the first three films, it would be regretful to not finish the journey. As a stand alone movie, "Shrek Forever After" works well enough.