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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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John Paul II: “Open wide the doors to Christ,” urged John Paul II during the homily at the Mass when he was installed as pope in 1978. <br /><br />Born in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla had lost his mother, father and older brother before his 21st birthday. Karol’s promising academic career at Krakow’s Jagiellonian University was cut short by the outbreak of World War II. While working in a quarry and a chemical factory, he enrolled in an “underground” seminary in Kraków. Ordained in 1946, he was immediately sent to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. <br /><br />Back in Poland, a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish preceded his very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. Soon he earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching that subject at Poland’s University of Lublin. <br /><br />Communist officials allowed him to be appointed auxiliary bishop of Kraków in 1958, considering him a relatively harmless intellectual. They could not have been more wrong! <br /><br />He attended all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its <em>Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World</em>. Appointed as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, he was named a cardinal three years later. <br /><br />Elected pope in October 1978, he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. In time, he made pastoral visits to 124 countries, including several with small Christian populations. <br /><br />He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives, especially the 1986 Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi. He visited Rome’s Main Synagogue and the Western Wall in Jerusalem; he also established diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel. He improved Catholic-Muslim relations and in 2001 visited a mosque in Damascus, Syria. <br /><br />The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, a key event in John Paul’s ministry, was marked by special celebrations in Rome and elsewhere for Catholics and other Christians. Relations with the Orthodox Churches improved considerably during his ministry as pope. <br /><br />“Christ is the center of the universe and of human history” was the opening line of his 1979 encyclical, <em>Redeemer of the Human Race</em>. In 1995, he described himself to the United Nations General Assembly as “a witness to hope.” <br /><br />His 1979 visit to Poland encouraged the growth of the Solidarity movement there and the collapse of communism in central and eastern Europe 10 years later. He began World Youth Day and traveled to several countries for those celebrations. He very much wanted to visit China and the Soviet Union but the governments in those countries prevented that. <br /><br />One of the most well-remembered photos of his pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983 with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier. <br /><br />In his 27 years of papal ministry, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. <br /><br />In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was forced to cut back on some of his activities. <br /><br />Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II in 2011, and Pope Francis canonized him in 2014. American Catholic Blog Lord, may I have balance and measure in everything—except in Love. —St. Josemaría Escrivá

 
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