Although Shrek has become a critical whipping boy over the course of its sequels, you can’t discount its success. Four high-grossing films, and a Puss In Boots spin-off next year, or so Wikipedia informs me. Even the mighty Pixar haven’t yet managed a franchise with this much sheer volume.
But the money has dropped off of late, so this is allegedly the last Shrek ever. This gets it some leeway with bitter reviewers such as myself, because although the series remains untroubled by innovation, it has given joy to large numbers of children and realised that it’s time to stop.
Like an ogre, it’s not all bad
Now that I’ve opened on that slightly harsh note, I should probably mention that this isn’t actually a bad film, or is certainly not as terrible as it could be. There are good jokes, especially if you are a child or have the mind of one. It is entertaining, in short. I didn’t sit there stony-faced the whole time.
Those responsible are assuming that if we’re watching the fourth and final instalment in the series, we have seen at least one of the preceding three. And if you’ve got a basic grasp of who’s who, you can laugh at the in-jokes and feel emotion at the sad parts as needed.
Needless to say, all the cast know their characters by now and seem to be enjoying themselves. Puss In Boots steals all his scenes, and although I disapprove of blatant spin-off mongering, I may yet see his movie if someone shows me a couple of good reviews.
Simple fun for kids and lazy adults
So this is a competent execution of the Shrek formula, and as long as you expect no more than that, you will probably be happy. That likelihood has kept an audience of children placated for some time, since they’re hardly known for wanting comfortable situations to suddenly change.
And sometimes even we adults want to sloth down with something safe and predictable, and this is a decent answer to that need. It’s well enough made, entertaining if unremarkable, and provides a swelling emotional climax to the saga. It’s a Shrek movie. It’s fine.