This is a friskier, less bombastic Shrek. Mostly, Shrek Forever After eases back on the smug referential humor that has always driven the series. From day one, it was built on swipes at Disney’s fanciful fairy tales, and that inferiority complex always felt more sad than clever. Though there are still a few of the expected anachronisms — an ogre (The Office’s Craig Robinson) with a fondness for chimichangas or a trailer park for witches — the humor here generally isn’t about pop-culture nudging. I can’t even recall a single fart gag. The down side to that approach is that screenwriters Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke don’t always seem to know what they should be doing to provide chuckles. There are more smiles here than big belly laughs, leading to something that often works better as an adventure — thanks to solid action work from director Mike Mitchell (Sky High), doing his first animation work — than as a comedy. Will those who embraced the more raucous Shrek of films past be disappointed? Possibly. For those who won’t find a change of personality any great loss, however, it comes as a pleasant surprise. This is one sitcom that actually needed to jump the shark, since it seems it has found firmer ground on the other side.
Director: Mike Mitchell
Writer: Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke
Producer: Andrew Adamson, Teresa Cheng, Gina Shay and Aron Warner
Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Justin Timberlake, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris and Craig Robinson