Shrek Forever After

Release Date: May 21, 2010

Movie of the Day for Tuesday, May 19, 2009
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He could work on his hygiene.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
103/123 David Mumpower It's funny because the cat is fat. Like Garfield!
152/190 Max Braden The story is a natural progression of the series, but the execution is just lifeless. I think the only thing I laughed at was Puss' adorable eyes.

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Imagine you run a film studio and after a couple of solid animation hits, you find yourself with a film that not only brings in half a billion dollars in worldwide revenue, but also gets rave reviews from critics and wins you an Oscar for Best Animated Feature (beating the beloved Pixar film Monsters, Inc.). You’d be an idiot not to make a sequel. And from what I’ve been told, studio heads are rarely idiots.

Now imagine that your sequel is an even BIGGER hit. It becomes the third biggest film ever in the United States, brings another batch of great reviews and garners almost $1 billion in worldwide box office. Again, you’d have to be stupid not to make another film.

Here’s where things get tricky: your third film, while still enormously successful from a revenue perspective, gets decidedly lackluster reviews. Murmurings can be heard around Hollywood that your franchise has lost the magic that made it so successful in its first two outings. “They sacrificed the film’s quality for the chance to bring in another billion dollars,” you can almost imagine them saying behind cupped hands and closed doors. The money brought in by the film now feels stained and immoral – you have a sneaking suspicion that your wallet has begun to stink of monetary fecal droppings. What do you do?

Well, of course, you announce that not only will there be a fourth film in the franchise, but praise be to capitalism, there will also be a fifth! After all, you ruminate, a trilogy is expected to end on its best note (compare Lord of the Rings to that of the Matrix films) but a franchise (wet-dream of every Hollywood accountant and producer) is allowed to have bumps in the road. No one expected every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be an hour of sheer Whedon-esque genius so long as the cumulative season was excellent (as it always was).

And so, gentle readers, here we are with yet another installment of DreamWorks Animation’s money-making franchise, Shrek. While I have no doubt that the studio has their fingers crossed that this new film, Shrek Goes Fourth, (with easily the cheesiest title of the series) continues its lucrative performance at the box-office, but its success will not be cultivated through the classic storytelling tactics of reinvention, innovation and imagination. No, instead, the film will steal pages out of the playbooks of three other successful films.

First of all, the producers will copy George Lucas, as this next installment takes us back to our favorite Ogre’s humble beginnings. It is, as they say, a prequel. We will find out how Shrek arrived in his swamp and what happened before he met Fiona. Secondly, rumors abound that this film will have an eco-tinted message involving a swamp whose environment is threatened. This, of course, follows in the footsteps of the Pixar masterpiece, WALL-E. Lastly, the primary release of this film will be in DreamWorks’ new 3-D technology, which follows in trail blazed by other Disney 3-D releases like Chicken Little and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

I have no doubt that Shrek Goes Fourth will be commercially viable at the box office – it’s hard not to like an ogre who doesn’t try to make you like him. I can only hope that this film is back at the level of the first two films and not that of the third. If not, then I suppose you could always call this film, Shrek Goes Fourth to Try and Make Enough Money to Pay the Salary of his DreamWorks Executives. (Jason Lee/BOP)

Vital statistics for Shrek Forever After
Main Cast Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy
Supporting Cast Antonio Banderas
Director Mike Mitchell
Screenwriter Tim Sullivan, Josh Klausner
Distributor DreamWorks
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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