The Shrek series now stands at 2-2 thanks to the latest addition to the cartoon canon. After the first two entertaining (if wildly overrated) installments made enough money to seemingly feed and clothe the entire U.S. population, the filmmakers opted to give us a pair of desperate lunges at more filthy lucre. Shrek Forever After is at least an improvement over Shrek the Third, but it's not enough of a step up to revitalize the ailing franchise.
This entry gives us a Shrek (again voiced by Mike Myers) who's none too happy with his domesticated lot in life. Feeling stifled by his family -- wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) and three flatulating infants -- and longing for the days when he was hated and feared by everyone around him, he ends up signing a contract whipped up by the devious Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), one that eventually leads to an alternate reality in which Shrek never existed. Thus, Rumpelstiltskin rules the kingdom, Fiona is a resistance fighter, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) is an unwilling servant to the witches that serve as Rumpelstiltkin's enforcers, and scene-stealing Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) has grown lazy and fat. Living on the contract's borrowed time, Shrek has less than 24 hours to make everything right.
Little kids will lap this up with the same zeal as Donkey digging into a stack of his beloved waffles, but adults will find nothing new here, just another retread of ideas exhausted in the previous entries. And while the plotline aggressively lifts from It's a Wonderful Life, it's clear that this isn't a wonderful movie, just an average one whose primary function will be to serve as a babysitter once it hits DVD.