Shrek Forever After (PG)
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This is the fourth movie in the "Shrek" franchise. It came out in 2010, but I didn't see it until 2023. As I said at the end of my review of the third movie, it was originally going to be called "Shrek Goes Fourth", but I assume at that time the movie could have had an entirely different plot than this movie does. (I have no idea if there were even any ideas for a plot yet, when the original title was announced.)
It begins with a flashback to King Harold and Queen Lillian going to Rumpelstiltskin to make a deal end their daughter's curse. He wants them to sign the kingdom of Far Far Away over to him in exchange for his help. But before they can, a messenger arrives saying Fiona had been saved. Flash forward to the present, and Shrek and Fiona are raising their three babies and often having Donkey and Puss (among others) as guests. One night, Fiona wishes on a falling star that every day could be like the one they just had, and while I'm certain that wish didn't literally come true, I did think it made for a nice touch: We see a montage of the following days that do have a frustrating sameness to them, full of tedium and minor annoyances that make Shrek increasingly tired of his current life. It all comes to a head at the babies' first birthday party, with everyone treating Shrek like he's not a "real" ogre anymore. He gets angry, leaves the party, and then says some unkind things to Fiona before wandering off.
He runs into Rumpel, who makes a deal with him so that Shrek can live one day in his old lifestyle, in exchange for one of his past days. I figured Rumpel would take the day Shrek saved Fiona, leading to a change in the timeline in which he gained control of Far Far Away, but it turned out to be worse than that. He took the day Shrek was born, so... now Shrek was never born, which means after the day he got in the deal ends, he'll disappear. (We also see that after Harold and Lillian made their own deal with Rumpel, they disappeared, though I'm not sure why that happened.) Anyway, Shrek is happy scaring people for awhile, but then gets captured by witches and taken to Rumpel's castle, where there are other ogre prisoners. And lots of witches working for Rumpel. Seriously, all those witches reminded me of the hyenas in The Lion King, after Scar became king. Shrek eventually breaks out of the castle, taking Donkey with him, even though Donkey doesn't know him and is scared of him. But after a little while Donkey comes back, and tells Shrek that Rumpel's contracts always have an escape clause. In this case, the deal can be undone with true love's kiss.
Shrek and Donkey eventually find that Fiona is now the leader of a group of ogres who have formed a resistance to King Rumpel. And Puss is now living with Fiona, having retired and gotten fat. He's the only one who knows about Fiona's curse, which still hasn't been broken, because she escaped the dragon's keep on her own. Shrek keeps trying to woo her to break Rumpel's deal, but she resists, since she doesn't know him, and honestly, I have to say he was pretty stalkery. I'm surprised she even let him stay around in the ogres' camp, it would've made more sense to kick him out. But eventually she does kiss him, and the deal isn't broken because she doesn't love him. So Shrek gives up hope. And Rumpel hires the Pied Piper as a bounty hunter to find and capture Shrek. (His flute is pretty neat since it has different settings to control different creatures, including ogres.)
But I've said quite enough. Plenty more stuff happens that I don't want to spoil, but inevitably Fiona finally does come to love Shrek, they kiss just as the sun is rising on a new day, her curse is broken and the timeline is restored. And Shrek has a new appreciation for his friends and family. I want to say that throughout the movie, I thought Rumpel's face and voice each reminded me of different characters I'd seen and heard before, and after I finished watching the movie it occurred to me, I think the character I was thinking of for his face was Syndrome from The Incredibles. I'm still not sure who his voice reminded me of, but probably it's an animated character, too. Anyway... this was a decent movie. Not nearly as good as the first two, but probably at least as good as the third one. For the most part it's not particularly funny, but I don't think it should be. It has a darker tone, which is appropriate to the alternate timeline story. It's actually kind of dystopian. Which I liked. It definitely had its flaws, but on the whole I consider it a worthy entry in the franchise. I just hope if and when they do a fifth movie, it's back to a lighter tone.