Going to see the fourth Shrek film, three years after seeing what I had thought would be the final part of a trilogy, I expected a limp and inconsequential milking of the cash-cow, but in fact it was actually an affectionate and entertaining final adventure for what have become well-loved characters. Indeed, they were well-loved even for one such as me, who disliked the first film. It was a neatly-crafted concept for getting another story out of a franchise that, really, had ended – spinoff prequels aside – and a satisfying mixture of action, comedy and sentiment peppered with great visual gags.
Now enjoying marital stability and a certain celebrity, part of Shrek will always yearn for the old days, when he was an ogre to be feared and respected, with independence and no responsibilities. But nasty little Rumpelstiltskin, who has a grudge against Shrek, is in a position to take advantage of this midlife crisis, and soon Shrek finds himself in an alternate world where nobody knows him, and none of the people whose lives he affected have lived quite the same lives. In true fairy tale fashion, the solution is true love’s kiss – but that’s not so easy to get from someone who never met you because you were never born.
Not a film I’d feel the need to buy and rewatch, nor, in truth, what you would call necessary, but enjoyable nonetheless.
(expanded from impressions, September 2010)