Shrek Forever After is the 4th in the Shrek series and has been billed as the 'final chapter'. Like the first 3 films, this flick is both a fun filled adventure suitable for the kiddies and a madcap collection of wink wink in jokes for the grown ups.
The story is actually quite simple. We open with a scene from the past. The King and Queen of Far Far Away are guilt ridden over the curse that has turned their daughter Fiona into a hideous beast every night, forcing them to lock her into a tower until true love comes and saves her with a kiss (how very classic fairy tale). Unable to wait any longer they have ridden out into the wilderness to "The Crone's Nest" a hideous 'carriage park' where instead of hicks, we have witches and the like. There they find Rumplestilkin, a Napoleonic weasel who profits by tricking people into signing seemingly unbreakable deals Faustian style.
Rumpie is on the verge of getting the King to sign away his entire kingdom to break Fiona's curse when a courtier arrives and tells the King that Fiona has been saved. By Shrek of course, leading the temper tantrum tossing Rumpie to declared that he wished Shrek had never been born. A wish of course he's going to have to grant for himself, thus setting up his side of the story.
Meanwhile Shrek, Fiona and their well little ogre triplets are having a typical day in the swamp. Full of story times, seriously nasty poopy diapers, a visiting tour, and a playdate with Donkey's kids (still trying to figure out the logistics of a donkey and a dragon). Fiona spots a shooting star and wishes that every day could be as wonderful as that one. Cue the "Groundhog Day" like series of practically identical days that led in a break neck pace to Shrek being on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Which he more or less has at the triplet's first birthday, which is the party from heck. From the Three Little Pigs chowing down on the cake, to the kid and his dad that keep demanding that Shrek "do the roar" to every other thing that gets tossed at Shrek, it's really no surprise that he flips out. Which then basically gets him kicked out. Like do to his basically saying he wished he'd never saved Fiona and he was still 'a real ogre' (yeah that didn't go over well)
Tramping home, Shrek wanders upon a broken down carriage and a dwarfy looking fellow in distress. Yeah, it's Rumpie. He tricks Shrek into sharing a drink inside as repayment for helping him. And after a few eyetinis, he cons Shrek into agreeing on giving up any day of his life in exchange for a day of perfect ogre bliss.
And what a wonderful day it is, scaring villagers, wallowing in the mud etc. Until Shrek discovers that Fiona and their home are missing. He is captured by a horde of witches and taken to the palace of King Rumplestilkin (say what?). Seems that Rumpie picked the day Shrek was born as his payment and when the 24 hours of the Shrek's contracted day ends so does he. Shrek manages to get out, taking Donkey with him. Despite having no clue who Shrek is, Donkey helps him to figure out an escape in the contract. If Shrek can get a kiss from his true love, the contract is broken.
Trouble is that Fiona isn't in that castle anymore. Tired of waiting to be saved, she's broken out and has become Fiona Warrior Princess (by night at least) in a weird homage that is one part Robin Hood and the other Braveheart. With a very fat Puss sans boots as her pet. Shrek makes a muck up of trying to win her heart, thanks her disbelief in love and singular focus on mounting the great Ogre Rebellion against King Rumpie. Rumpie meanwhile has hired the Pied Piper to hunt down and destroy Shrek before he can break the contract. Which leads to the films token big musical number out in the forest. All seems lost until Shrek gives himself up in exchange for the horde's freedom. Only Rumpie is a tricky midget and keeps Fiona in chains, thanks her to dual nature. Puss and Donkey stage a trojan shiny ball and sneak the ogre's back in to save their leader. Together they fight off the witches, a dragon (yeah that dragon) and Rumpie before a touching moment a la Beauty and the Beast where Fiona realizes she's totally smitten with the dumb lug or an orge and kisses him, a split second before the sands of time run out, which of course wipes away the contract and puts everything back the way it was.
Well not exactly since Shrek returns to the party pre freak out. Some sappy "you rescued me" stuff and cue the credits with the standard Shrek musical fun.
Although some of the jokes are rather cheesy, I remain impressed with the level of intelligence tossed into this movie. They mix in actual songs like "Hello", "Shake your groove thang" and "I'm a Believer" in ways that slide in and out like they were written for the movie. And even the callouts to other movies are done with panache. Over all we have "It's a Wonderful Shrek" with bits of lots of other movies. Even in the score there are moments that feel like they were ripped out of other movies like Avatar, Braveheart etc. There's a level of fun trying to spot all the references which makes the fart jokes more tolerable. The animation is also spot on with 3d that adds a subtle hint of spice to things.
All in all, a five star way to wrap things up.