Shrek Forever After (2010) – Directed by Mike Mitchell – Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Walt Dohrn, Jon Hamm, Jane Lynch, John Cleese, Julie Andrews, and Craig Robinson.
SHREK FOREVER AFTER is a step in the right direction after the disappointing SHREK THE THIRD, but it’s also a sign that DreamWorks had run out of ideas to propel the SHREK franchise forward, so good on them for not making the planned fifth film.
It’s really pretty amazing that they wouldn’t make SHREK 5. FOREVER AFTER cost $135 million to make and brought in $752 million at the international box office, which begs the question if so many people are willing to turn up for a forgettably decent fourth installment of the franchise, why wouldn’t you come back for another round? Banking $600 million (give or take – these numbers never take the full financial picture into account) would fund another four or five CGI movies.
It drives certain filmmakers nuts that the public cares, let alone focuses, on budget and box office, and I can understand that. But when I hear that FOREVER puts $600 million in the studio’s coffers (just from the box office, let alone future, home-related profits), I do wonder if it’s financially responsible NOT to make another film. I think the same thing when I hear someone like Chris Nolan talk about how he refused to release Dark Knight Rises as a 3D movie – artistically, of course, I support Nolan’s decision (I have yet to see 3D develop to the point where the benefits outweigh the negatives) but when a studio is putting up $250 million for you to make a movie in a genre that has proven financially successful with 3D screenings, is it smart to leave that money on the table in exchange for the benefits of your artistic vision? It’s not like there still wouldn’t be a 2D movie, after all.
I’m not shilling for the coffers of DreamWorks and Warner Brothers. I just think it’s curious when an industry that plays for such huge financial stakes purposely declines to consume guaranteed additional money. Maybe putting out a 3D release of Dark Knight wouldn’t make a dramatic difference, but there’s no reason to think SHREK 5 wouldn’t be a guaranteed $500 million profit, is there?
Or maybe Jeffrey Katzenberg finally just couldn’t deal with the fact that they’d run out of SHREK stories to tell. Maybe that’s why we got a Puss in Boots movie instead of another SHREK film – and Puss‘ $400 million profit isn’t anything to sneeze at.
SHREK FOREVER AFTER takes on one of my least favorite stories to see in a movie: the alternate reality film. In comic books, I love the alt-universe stuff but I’m not a fan of it with cinematic releases because we get so few chances to see these characters in this setting that seeing them but not really seeing them isn’t my preferred way to experience a franchise film. By the fourth film in a series, however, we like these characters. I like Donkey and Fiona and Puss and I want to see Donkey and Fiona and Puss. I don’t really want to see Stranger Donkey and Warrior Fiona and Fat Puss.
Personal problems with this type of story aside, SHREK FOREVER AFTER isn’t a horribly film. It tells a pretty good story of how life might have turned out if Shrek (Mike Myers) never met Donkey (Eddie Murphy) nor saved Fiona (Cameron Diaz). In this world, Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) makes a deal with King Harold and Queen Lillian (John Cleese and Julie Andrews) and as a result he becomes the King of Far Far Away. We get a nightmarish world where the ogres are in Braveheart mode and Shrek is desperate to undo the damage that he caused simply because he’s a selfish jerk.
It’s not bad, but it’s not memorable, either. The animation is once again top notch and Rumpelstiltskin is an interesting villain, but FORVER AFTER is the kind of film that if it was on TV during a lazy Saturday afternoon, I’d watch it if the remote was on the other side of the room, but flip past it if the remote was in my hand.
SAFH is a kid’s espionage novella, but it’s also a tribute to the television shows I watched as a kid: The A-Team, Magnum PI, Knight Rider, Hardcastle and McCormack, Riptide, Dukes of Hazzard and generally any show where Post and Carpenter did the music. Recommended age? If you let your kid watch superhero cartoons or Knight Rider reruns, SAFH should be age appropriate.
Here’s the back cover description:
Jurgen the Gorilla. Throne the Lion. Bronze the Golden Eagle. Ray the Brown Bear. Bottle the Dolphin. Dev the Lynxwoman. 3 the Triceratops. Ptera the Pterodactyl. These eight stuffed animals make up the Return Squadron. For seven months they have worked together to return disconnected stuffed animals home. But now … on their final mission, the Return Squadron seek to steal the legendary Map of Everything. Before Christmas morning arrives, three of the Squadron will turn traitor, four will be stranded, and one will never see another Christmas.