AWFJ Women On Film – “Shrek Forever After” – Review by Susan Granger

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While the fabled concept of Frank Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life” has been re-interpreted in many different venues, who thought it would make its way into the fantasy realm of Shrek? Obviously, screenwriters Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke and director Mike Mitchell did, because the plot finds thoroughly domesticated Shrek in the midst of a midlife crisis, grumpy and frustrated about the mundane monotony that his life has become minding three screaming ogre youngsters.

So Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) experiences what the Far, Far Away world would have been like if he’d never been born and never met up with Donkey (voiced by Eddie Murphy), Princess Fiona (voiced by Cameron Diaz), Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas), the Queen (voiced by Julie Andrews), the King (voiced by John Cleese) and the other fairy tale characters, like The Gingerbread Man and Three Little Pigs.

It’s a diabolical ploy arranged by sinister, smooth-talking Rumpelstiltskin (voiced by story editor Walt Dohrn), because – before Shrek appeared on the scene to break Fiona’s curse – he was manipulating Fiona’s parents to turn over the kingdom to him. Now Stiltskin rules as the goofy, green ogre observes a parallel Shrek-less universe in which flame-haired Fiona has become a freedom fighter, leading an ogre rebellion.

While the formulaic plot lacks freshness, in this fourth – and reportedly final – installment, director Mike Mitchell highlights the usual silly puns and fractured pop culture references, particularly “The Wizard of Oz,” more aimed at kids than adults this time ‘round. As usual, the animation is stunning. Mike Myers remains gruffly lovable, Eddie Murphy is sassy, Cameron Diaz becomes feisty and Antonio Banderas stays suave. But gone is the campy, yet sincere simplicity that made the original “Shrek” into a classic. As for the IMAX and 3-D, they enhance a dizzying, high-soaring broom chase and climactic battle sequence but not much else.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Shrek Forever After” is a fanciful, franchise-concluding 6 – and the dvd will have a long and prosperous life.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.