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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that like all Shrek movies, Shrek Forever After includes some cartoonish violence, mild innuendo most children won't pick up on, and a scene in which Shrek gets tipsy on shaken "Eyeball-tinis." The mild peril in this "final chapter" is mostly medieval fighting between the ogres and Rumpelstiltskin's cabal of witches. Shrek and Fiona, as well as Donkey and his dragon wife, are all affectionate and flirt and kiss and declare their eternal love to each other. The gross-out humor is limited to some disgusting items the ogres eat and a few jokes about Donkey and the ogres, but otherwise, this is an animated movie for general audiences. Be warned, though, Shrek has a lot of merchandising tie-ins, so the consumerism is difficult to escape. Also, since it's offered in 3-D, a few scenes are more intense than they'd be otherwise.
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What's the story?
As Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona's (Cameron Diaz) triplets approach their first birthday, the family's life seems idyllic in SHREK FOREVER AFTER. But the days spent playing, changing diapers, sharing meals with Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), and the rest of the Far Far Away pals grow monotonous, and Shrek begins to long for his days as a "wanted" ogre that people feared. Driven to temporary insanity at the triplets' birthday party, Shrek winds up having one too many drinks with the shrewd magician Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who convinces him to sign a contract that provides Shrek with one full day to spend as if he'd never saved Fiona from the dragon's keep. In exchange, Shrek has to "give a day back" to Rumpelstiltskin, but the day he ends up giving up is the day he was born. This leads to a "metaphysical time warp" in which Shrek and Rumpelstiltskin are the only ones who know the truth. Meanwhile, Rumpelstiltskin is the tyrannical dictator of Far Far Far Away; Fiona is the leader of an underground ogre rebellion; Puss in Boots is literally a fat cat; and Donkey is a slave to the coven of witches to protect Rumpelstiltskin. The only way to reverse the spell is for Shrek and Fiona to share true love's kiss before the day ends.
Is it any good?
If there’d never been another Shrek movie, perhaps this installment would be worthy of four stars as an entertaining family flick, but in this iconic pop-culture franchise, it’s not quite up to par. The jokes, while still funny, are predictable, and some of the best sight gags -- like Gingy fighting Gladiator-style against animal crackers or Rumpelstiltskin's various "mood wigs" -- are fleeting. There are definitely reasons to laugh, and in a couple of spots out loud, but overall the characters we've grown to love don't have as much to do in Shrek Forever After. And let's not even get started on the fact that most young children may not immediately understand the It's a Wonderful Life-style time paradox. Be prepared to answer all sorts of questions about why the babies don't exist, why the young king crowned in Shrek the Third isn't present, and why Puss in Boots is so fat and lazy -- all during the movie.
On the upside, the ogre rebellion features the voices of Jon Hamm, Craig Robinson, and Jane Lynch, all of whom welcome Shrek into their green brotherhood. As the ogres' resistance leader, Fiona is fierce and fiery. The villainous Rumpelstiltskin and his surrounding witches, however, are not as hilariously evil as the previous antagonists. To make matters worse, there aren't as many noteworthy musical numbers, although the sequence where Shrek revels in being hated and feared again is perfectly accompanied by The Carpenters' classic song On Top of the World. Ultimately, it's not as revolutionary as the first two, or even as memorable as the third, but the fourth -- and probably final -- Shrek is still worth seeing, if only to revisit some of the best animated characters ever to appear on screen.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the message of this installment of Shrek Forever After -- is the grass always greener on the other side, or is it best to love your life and not that life you could have lived?
Shrek merchandise can be found everywhere. Does it cheapen a movie to have so many toys and food items attached to it, or is it simply a sign of how popular the movie is? If you like Shrek, does seeing him on products make you want to buy them more? How can you avoid getting sucked into the commercialism?
Is time-warp Fiona different than ogre-mama Fiona? Has Fiona always displayed bravery and leadership skills? What kinds of stereotypes about men and women does the movie challenge or reinforce?
How does this movie compare with the previous three? Is it best for Fiona and Shrek to retire in Far, Far Away, or are there even more stories to tell?
- In theaters: May 21, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 7, 2010
- Cast: Antonio Banderas, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers
- Director: Mike Mitchell
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Gratitude, Integrity
- Run time: 93 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild action, some rude humor and brief language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.