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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Shrek Forever After

By
John P. McCarthy
Source: Catholic News Service


Scene from the animated movie "Shrek Forever After."
The green ogre and his princess bride come full circle in "Shrek Forever After" (Paramount), a more conventionally heartwarming and less raucous animated riff on fairy tales than its three predecessors.

Those relishing the cheeky idiom that helped the franchise achieve blockbuster status (and occasionally push the PG envelope) might be disappointed to learn its swan song has so much in common with the Disney canon it began by parodying.

On the other hand, though less amusing absent so many snarky pop-culture references, "Shrek Forever After" affirms the values of love and fidelity in a way that should gladden parents. Director Mike Mitchell and company opt for the sweeter, more traditional charms of "It's A Wonderful Life," which their slightly convoluted plot mimics.

The story begins before the action of the first film. Just before Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) rescued Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz) from the tower in which she was imprisoned by a dragon, her royal parents (voiced by Julie Andrews and John Cleese) were about to sign a Faustian bargain with Rumpelstiltskin (voice of Walt Dohrn). By forfeiting the kingdom of Far Far Away, they would save their daughter. Thankfully, Shrek's heroics made the transaction unnecessary.

Fast-forward to the present and the swamp where Shrek and Fiona have settled down with their cuddly triplets. Although being a peace-loving father has its rewards, Shrek finds domesticity lacking: No one fears him, and his daily routine is exhausting. He yearns for a little freedom and the excitement of his previous line of work terrorizing villages and wreaking havoc.

During their children's first birthday party, Shrek has a panic attack-cum-meltdown and argues with Fiona. Rumpelstiltskin overhears and proposes a magical deal that will allow Shrek to experience his old life for one day in exchange for another day in his life. Rumpelstiltskin chooses to take the day Shrek was born. Since Shrek never existed, Fiona was never rescued and thus the kingdom of Far Far Away falls into Rumpelstiltskin's devious hands after all.

Shrek is just another ogre in this scenario, while Fiona leads the ogres' underground resistance against Rumpelstiltskin and his witch minions. She has no idea who Shrek is and, as they try to overthrow Rumpelstiltskin together, Shrek must steal True Love's Kiss, thus breaking the spell and allowing everyone to live happily ever after.

Donkey (voice of Eddie Murphy) and a portly Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas) lob wisecracks and otherwise help reunite the lovebirds to end tyranny's reign. Shrek falls for Fiona all over again and becomes keenly aware of his good fortune.

The franchise's high production values are in evidence, with the actors' strong characterizations matched by expressive animation featuring a vibrant palette and many creative perspectives. Whether there's any good reason (other than higher ticket prices) to project the movie in 3-D as well as conventional format is debatable. As before, an array of pop music ballads and rock 'n' roll songs are engagingly deployed.

Because the film contains nothing edgier than the elements listed below, adults deciding whether it's suitable for children can err on the side of being inclusive.

The film contains a few mild action sequences and occasional toilet-related humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
John P. McCarthy is a guest reviewer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film & Broadcasting.


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Pedro de San José Betancur: Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002. Known as the "St. Francis of the Americas," Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala. 
<p>Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that St. Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change. </p><p>“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy. </p><p>Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived he was so destitute that he joined the bread line that the Franciscans had established. </p><p>Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655 he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent. </p><p>Other men came to share in Pedro's work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro's death. A Bethlehemite sisters' community, similarly founded after Pedro's death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion. </p><p>He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve <i>posadas</i> procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night's lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries. </p><p>Pedro was canonized in 2002.</p> American Catholic Blog We sometimes try to do everything on our own, forgetting that the Lord wants to help us. Let's never be afraid to admit that we are weak and can't do things on our own. St. Paul gives us a great example: "On my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses" (2 Corinthians 12:5).


 
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