Shrek Forever After (2010)

Rated: PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language.
Length: 93 minutes
Grade: DBAD=D+
Budget: $165 million
Box Office: $312 million in a month (226 U.S., 86 Intl.)

Written by: Josh Klausner (Date Night, Shrek the Third) and Darren Lemke (First major script)
Directed by: Mike Mitchell (Sky High, Surviving Christmas, Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo
Starring the voices of: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, and Cameron Diaz
With the voices of: Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Craig Robinson, Walt Dohrn, Lake Bell, Kathy Griffin, and Meredith Vieira.

Summary: S
hrek finds himself mired in the mind-numbing repetition of domestication and, in a moment of weakness, makes a deal with Rumplestiltskin that undoes his very existence. He has one day to restore the world to it’s proper shape, but none of his former friends even know who he is anymore.

Entertainment Value: D
First I must confess I haven’t been a big fan of the Shrek movies in general. I find them overhyped by most people. That being said, at least the other ones had their moments of humor in and along with the weak and weird plots. It’s like the writers here just completely gave up on even trying to make it funny. The plot isn’t awful, but it’s just uncompelling and what little magic the others had just wasn’t preserved here.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol B+, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B, Language B+
There’s some ogre drinking, some very mild language, and some scary scenes with witches and violence. It’s actually the tamest of the four movies so far, in my opinion. Barely PG. Maybe PG-6.

Significant Content: A
How can a movie this ungood have such a great message? Because it’s an ancient one. This is what some like to call a “metaphysical second chance fairy tale.” Like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and every other movie in this genre, the idea is simple. Someone with a good life thinks it would have been better if…, then when given the chance to realize what he’s lost in the alternative struggles mightily to just get back to normal, a place he now realizes is quite wonderful. In particular, this is about a domesticated ogre who remembers the good old days of being a barbarian and all the fun he used to have before wife and kids tamed him. So basically he’s a guy going through a “mid-life crisis” who gets to show other guys like him what’s what before they leave their families for a Corvette and a bimbo.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
How can a message this obvious be of much use in such a dumb movie? Well, that’s the point. It can’t really, can it?

Discussion Questions:
~Given the choice between a life invested in marriage and kids or a barbarian’s freedom, what is the rational choice? Is there a third alternative which might allow an ogre to be an ogre and still be a good father?
~Why does Shrek find it so hard to be satisfied in his life? Is it because he really had it so good before, or is it because this is just so different? If a person has only known pain and loneliness for a long time, is it realistic to think he will just immediately adapt to a healthy life and find it fits him perfectly? Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about a past bad thing that you know was not good but you still can’t help remembering fondly despite the flaws?
~How is this movie a good antidote to the thinking of fairy tales which end with the line, “And they lived happily ever after?” Why is it important to realize that, even when we get everything we want, there will still be struggles and frustrations?
~If you are a parent, how does it make you feel to see the drudgery of parenting in a movie? Does it reassure you to know that people understand your suffering, or do you go to the movies to escape for a while? Is this a message you wish more people would share with pre-parents?
~How is all sin basically like Shrek’s deal with Rumplestiltskin? Why does Satan choose not to tempt us when we are basically happy?
~How is Rumplestiltskin a good example of a very bad friend? What would a good friend have done for Shrek when he was feeling mopey about his life? Why are friends so important to living a virtuous life?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~Shrek being pestered by some stranger’s kid to deliver his fearsome roar as a party trick.
~The interaction with Rumplestiltskin.
Overall Grade: D+
It’s boring and dumb, but at least it’s telling the right message. Don’t go see it, but be glad that some of the people who need to will. Perhaps the best thing about this movie is it purports to be the last Shrek film.

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