Shrek is feeling over-domesticated in the fourth installment. He has lost his roar. It used to send villagers running away in terror. Now they run to him and ask him to sign their pitchforks and torches. To regain his ogre mojo, he strikes a deal with Rumpelstiltskin. The pact goes awry and Shrek must confront what life would be like in Far Far Away if he had never existed. That translates into Donkey being forced into cart-pulling duty, fat and lazy Puss in Boots trading his sword for a pink bow and the underhanded Rumpelstiltskin ruling the kingdom.
With most movies, I walk into them with some anxiety because I really don’t know if they are going to be any good despite even the best reviews. Quite frankly, I often disagree with the critics who I feel watch a film from a professional, detached artsy-fartsy perspective or on the other side of the coin, act as shills for the studios and give positive reviews to mediocre films in an blatant attempt to build more hype about a film than is deserved (see: “Avatar”). Critics tend to ignore the perspective of the average semi-intelligent movie-goer who’s looking for, if nothing else, a good entertainment value for their $10 (in my case $13.75 for the IMAX 3D… ugh.). That being said, I never have any anxiety when I walk into a Shrek film. It’s not even that I particularly think Shrek films are that great, it’s that I know what to expect from the series. Even the worst Shrek film (which was arguably Shrek the Third) is better than most family films out there because the characters are loveable and relatable, the humor hits for both adults and kids alike without a need for parents to squirm or have to worry about what their kids are exposed to (and I don’t care what anyone says, fart jokes are universally funny no matter what the age).
Needless to say, I knew “Shrek Forever After” would be enjoyable, but I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much it exceeded even my expectations. It’s kind of like Shrek is Jimmy Stewart from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but unlike George Bailey, Shrek’s motivations are totally selfish because they revolve exclusively around his own mid-life crisis. Part of the reason this film is so effective is because that is exactly the reason why an X – Gen’er would want to wish they had never been born; not for Mary, not for Uncle Billy and the Savings and Loan, not even for Zu-Zu’s flippin’ petals. They’d do it so they could do whatever they want just like they could before they got married and had a family and get away with it (yes, we are that selfish). The other reason this film works is because it’s based around an alternate reality concept which by its nature takes us all the way back to what we enjoyed in the beginning of the series where none of these characters knew each other yet hilariously develop their relationships all over again. Basically, “Shrek Forever After” takes the best-loved aspects of the franchise and puts a wonderful new spin on them and yes, I need to declare this now: I like fat Puss even more than I like skinny Puss, and you will too. That’s right, I said it. You can quote me (I might use that as my Facebook status).
As far as the technical aspects of the 3D IMAX is concerned, I’m really indifferent to 3D because the more films I see in 3D, the quicker my eyes adjust and I don’t even notice it any more. It’s gotten so bad with me that my eyes adjusted during the trailers preceding the film so I really had a tough time appreciating the 3D effects during the film itself, however, the cinematography and visuals were so well done that I honestly believe that it would be just as enjoyable in 2D at home on Blu Ray. It really is a beautifully done film that is funny, incredibly heartwarming and in my opinion the best of the franchise .
Puss in Boots
Voiced by Antonio Banderas, the dauntless feline of legend goes on an animated adventure to purloin a priceless golden-egg-laying goose. To help him on his mission, Puss brings along his friends Humpty Dumpty and the super-stealthy Kitty Softpaws.
Rating: 9 out of 10
This is by far smarter, funnier, more clever, witty, and fun than any of the Shrek films. Each of its unneeded sequels got dumber and dumber, which is why I ignored this spin-off completely. That was a huge mistake.
There were moments where I genuinely laughed out out loud. I delighted in the equisite detail of the animation and the backgrounds that drip with color in a Spanish-inspired fairy tale world. And I adored the theft of classic cowboy and Spanish films that no doubt inspired director Chris Miller (Shrek the Third). There is so much love poured into this film, and it’s obvious in all the detail that layers this movie over and over again.
And the performances are great, from the self-afacing Antonio Benderas, who is lampooning himself in the title role, to Salma Hayek, Zach Galifanakis and Billy Bob Thornton. It’s an awesome cast with a compelling storyline wrapped in a wonderfully crafted film. It’s one of the best animated films I’ve seen in years.
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