In this fourth and final installation in the Shrek franchise, our green hero feels emasculated by the grind of domesticity (marriage, fatherhood) and worn down by the demands of celebrity. His failure to realize that his is, indeed, a wonderful life leads him to utter a wish for just one day to cavort in his old life of swampy bachelorhood. The wish is granted by the conniving Rumpelstiltskin, whose enforcement of contractual fine-print lands Shrek in a brutal parallel universe in which Rumpelstiltskin rules the kingdom of Far, Far Away with an army of witches as his muscle. There, Fiona (in Xena mode) leads an underground resistance movement, Donkey has no memory of Shrek but still steals almost every scene he’s in, and an obese Puss walks away with whatever scenes Donkey doesn’t. It takes the film a deadly long time to kick in, and when it does, it largely retreads formula: ironic use of pop standards, musical numbers with contemporary choreography played for maximum laughs, risque one-liners. By the middle of the second act, Forever After finally finds its groove, becoming mildly amusing (the actors—Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas—are in fine form) but never rising to the inspired heights of the original. And the 3-D effects are so weak as to bring nothing to the table.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 18, 2010