As an enthusiast of the Shrek franchise, I have sat through the films for better or worse, which let's face it... they have many of both. The original still being the blueprint for modern Dreamworks Animation and general family entertainment not named Pixar.
But since the original Shrek, it's been ten years and so much has changed in society. Even the movies appeared to be trying to keep up by shoving an overabundance of pop culture references that at times bogged down the stories. It left many a little confused by Shrek the Third and by this point, you are either die hard or just sick.
For enthusiasts, this is quite the treat.
We meet up with Shrek (Mike Myers) and his wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) on their triplet's first birthday. Many things have changed, including the fact that Shrek's swamp is now a tourist attraction and Shrek is getting tired of being considered a tame ex-ogre. He longs for the days when he was a mud swimming, feared creature by the citizens.
Cue Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn), a maniacal little man with a plan to take over the kingdom of Far Far Away while tricking people with unforseen clauses to agreements. However, at the beginning of this movie, Shrek doesn't know that and ends up wishing to escape the burned out life of a tamed ex-ogre and wishes to be his old self just for a day.
Now, many of you are worried out there that this is A Wonderful Life rip-off. True as all can be. However, in the Shrek world, it opens up some creativity. Fiona is now leader of a resistance movement against Rumplestiltskin, Shrek's best friend Donkey (Eddie Murphy) pushes carts, and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) has retired to the life of a pampered, fluffy cat... and none of them have any idea who Shrek is.
The story progresses and manages to recapture some flame from the first movie that had been disappearing over the years. How? In Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third, it appeared that the franchise was set on making fun of Hollywood culture more than the fairy tales that Shrek did to such original feats. There are still numerous references (including a Pied Piper gag involving the Beastie Boys' "Sure Shot"), but this time, they don't feel like they are bearing the plot down.
This was the biggest downfall of Shrek the Third and it's impressive to see the franchise learning from this decision. As a result, there is way more action, more goofy characters, and the comedy is more character than reference.
It manages to get wrapped up in cliches of having been around for ten years. We begin to expect characters to react certain ways, and at times it feels like the audience already knows the set up. However, if you just enjoy the movie for it's great animation and whimsical vibe, then these are easy to overlook.
While it would've been nice for a plot that didn't involve alternate reality, it was still a very entertaining finale for the franchise. If anything, this movie felt like it was doing an analyzation on why the franchise has been so successful by recounting moments during the ending credits, and for those that have enjoyed most of it, it's quite a sad, yet cliche, ending.
Yes, there will never be a film quite like Shrek, but with Shrek: The Final Chapter, it manages to take the gang out on a high note. It may have just as many flaws as the rest, but they are still solid enough to call this worthy entertainment for those who still find joy in this bizarre little world.
However, for Mike Myers, this looks like the end of the road if it holds up to be the last of Shrek (I'm sure some TV spin-offs will pop up eventually). His recent live action work like The Love Guru hasn't given us much hope that he can be successful outside of this world any more. But it has indeed been some fun times knowing him.