A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 383 – Shrek Forever After

Shrek Forever After – March 18th, 2011

I’m going to be honest here: I wasn’t ever expecting to watch this movie. That’s because until today we didn’t own it and I had no idea Andy had ordered it. And he’s very lucky that the quality of this one is a good deal higher than the last one because otherwise we would have some things to talk about. Actually, we did have some things to talk about. Namely, a new rule that states that from now on any movie purchased by one or the other of us without notification and approval of the other can be treated as an unsolicited addition. Which means not necessarily watched for the project. And after last night’s muddled mess, I think I was well within my rights to question the inclusion of its sequel.

And as I said, Andy is lucky that this one is better. It’s a good deal better, actually. There’s no attempt at split plots here, no wasted possibilities of entire genres of jokes. It’s decidedly darker than the first three, with a well-worn plot device driving the action, but my biggest complaint isn’t any of that. It’s the beginning of the movie. Because the whole point of the plot is that Shrek has to get to a point where he’s susceptible to someone making him a deal where he’ll end up in a world where he never existed. So the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the movie (and oh does it feel longer) are devoted to making the audience feel like Shrek’s life is really, truly, horribly, excruciatingly torturous. Instead it just reinforced my decision to never have kids. Especially little ogre triplets or mutant donkey dragon babies.

Shrek and Fiona are living together in the swamp with their babies and Donkey and his kids come for dinner and it’s an endless succession of days full of dirty diapers, baby puke, household chores, no time to rest, broken furniture, chaos and so on and so forth. It winds into a frenzy, with Shrek growing more and more frustrated and trapped and desperate until the triplets’ first birthday party where he totally loses it and storms out after roaring at all the guests. In his moment of weakness Shrek is tempted by Rumplestiltskin and signs away a single day of his life in return for a day where he gets to be a regular ogre again. Except, as we all know, Rumplestiltskin is all about the fine print and swipes the day Shrek was born, thereby making him not exist. And thus Shrek has to find a way to get out of his contract before the day is over.

Really, it’s your standard It’s a Wonderful Life rip-off but with Rumplestiltskin instead of Mr. Potter and instead of his wife being a spinster librarian in the alternate non-Shrek world she’s a kick-ass ogre resistance leader. Which, wait, this is a bad thing? Okay, so the reason she’s an ogre resistance leader is because without Shrek around (and apparently without Charming either) Fiona had to rescue herself. And since Rumplestiltskin has taken over Far Far Away and started hunting ogres, well, she’s got quite a group to lead. Not the ideal circumstances, but damn if it doesn’t make for an incredibly awesome role for Fiona in this movie. This is what I wanted from her and the princesses in the third one. She is consistently bad ass every step of the way here and I love her. I love her to pieces and this one thing is the primary reason why I cannot remain mad that Andy bought this without telling me. Self-rescuing princess who leads a barbarian horde and rejects unwanted romantic overtures with a boot to the butt? Yeah, I like her.

Sadly, that version of Fiona is doomed to be a limited time offer, since Shrek’s whole mission in this plot is to slip through the loophole in his contract and get back to his real life where Fiona is still awesome but not quite so bad ass. It’s a pity that she couldn’t go on being the ass whupping ogre leader she was even after Shrek headed back to his own reality. And normally I’d be championing a new branch of canon and all, but the movie makes it quite clear that no, it doesn’t last past Shrek’s departure. Alas. I can understand why it would be a sad world to leave running, what with the true love aspect for Shrek and Fiona, and as I said it’s a dark world in general (oh, Gingy!) but still, alas.

I appreciate that this movie did the It’s a Wonderful Life thing the way that it did it. Sure, it’s familiar, but that’s what makes it a good vehicle for something like this. We know these characters. We know this world. We know how it all works. Seeing their alternate selves makes this a parody of what was already a parody, which is a nice little level of meta. And I like some of the alternates! Donkey’s still Donkey, obviously, and I’ve made my feelings about Fiona clear, I hope. But then there’s Puss. Who is a bit chubbier and less swashbuckling but no less awesome. He reminded me quite a bit of one of our own cats and of my mother’s last cat, on whom some of Puss’s actions could have been modeled. I liked the new characters of the huge ogres and I liked the witches and I even liked Rumplestiltskin as a bad guy. And then there’s the Pied Piper, who is totally the Boba Fett to Rumplestiltskin’s Darth Vader. I get why the beginning was so exaggeratedly painful. I just wish it had been more painful for Shrek to live than for me to watch. But then the movie gave me Fiona, Queen of the Ogres, and for that alone I’m actually glad we own it.

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March 18, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , ,

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