After the events of the previous movies, Shrek and Fiona are living happily ever after in the land of Far, Far Away. Contented housewife Fiona wishes that every day could be the same, but hubby Shrek has developed something of a four-movie-itch. Stuck in a rut, his state of mind isn't helped by the annoying villagers who - quite fairly - have his number marked as a friendly figure of fun, rather than the terrifying ogre he once was. Cue Rumpelstiltskin (a fantastic Walt Dohrn) who offers Shrek a single day as his old, feared self. All he has to do is sacrifice one forgotten day from his youth. What could possibly go wrong!
Where Shrek Forever After really succeeds is with a story that's well-put-together and touching while never sacrificing the one-liners or sense of fun. There are obvious shades of It's A Wonderful Life and at times things may be a little bit dark for the youngest children, but those who have kept up with the series will appreciate a mature but colourful spin on a modern fairytale. Sure, there's an occasional moment that may be too complex for some - Rumpelstiltskin uttering the phrase "metaphysical paradox" certainly sticks in the mind - but these are brief excesses which kids will quickly gloss over as the story continues.
The best scenes find Shrek reacquainting himself with his old friends in a strange new world. Donkey nabs some of the best lines, but it's an overweight, out-of-shape Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) who steals the feline's share of the laugh-out-loud moments. There are great supporting characters too, including Rumple's pet goose and a gaggle of witches on loan from the Wizard Of Oz. A sole criticism is the now-obligatory money-making exercise of the movie being in 3D. It's used infrequently enough here to be pretty pointless and even when it's deployed it does very little, apart from sapping the colour from the screen. But that minor quibble aside, Shrek Forever After is a fairy tale ending for the series.
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