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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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Rose Philippine Duchesne: Born in Grenoble, France, of a family that was among the new rich, Philippine learned political skills from her father and a love of the poor from her mother. The dominant feature of her temperament was a strong and dauntless will, which became the material—and the battlefield—of her holiness. She entered the convent at 19 and remained despite their opposition. As the French Revolution broke, the convent was closed, and she began taking care of the poor and sick, opened a school for homeless children and risked her life helping priests in the underground. 
<p>When the situation cooled, she personally rented her old convent, now a shambles, and tried to revive its religious life. The spirit was gone, and soon there were only four nuns left. They joined the infant Society of the Sacred Heart, whose young superior, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, would be her lifelong friend. In a short time Philippine was a superior and supervisor of the novitiate and a school. But her ambition, since hearing tales of missionary work in Louisiana as a little girl, was to go to America and work among the Indians. At 49, she thought this would be her work. With four nuns, she spent 11 weeks at sea en route to New Orleans, and seven weeks more on the Mississippi to St. Louis. She then met one of the many disappointments of her life. The bishop had no place for them to live and work among Native Americans. Instead, he sent her to what she sadly called "the remotest village in the U.S.," St. Charles, Missouri. With characteristic drive and courage, she founded the first free school for girls west of the Mississippi. </p><p>It was a mistake. Though she was as hardy as any of the pioneer women in the wagons rolling west, cold and hunger drove them out—to Florissant, Missouri, where she founded the first Catholic Indian school, adding others in the territory. "In her first decade in America, Mother Duchesne suffered practically every hardship the frontier had to offer, except the threat of Indian massacre—poor lodging, shortages of food, drinking water, fuel and money, forest fires and blazing chimneys, the vagaries of the Missouri climate, cramped living quarters and the privation of all privacy, and the crude manners of children reared in rough surroundings and with only the slightest training in courtesy" (Louise Callan, R.S.C.J., <i>Philippine Duchesne</i>). </p><p>Finally at 72, in poor health and retired, she got her lifelong wish. A mission was founded at Sugar Creek, Kansas, among the Potawatomi. She was taken along. Though she could not learn their language, they soon named her "Woman-Who-Prays-Always." While others taught, she prayed. Legend has it that Native American children sneaked behind her as she knelt and sprinkled bits of paper on her habit, and came back hours later to find them undisturbed. She died in 1852 at the age of 83 and was canonized in 1988.</p> American Catholic Blog It was important for some saints to vanish from view, to “decrease” so that God could “increase” in the scheme of things. Many saints actively fought promotions. If obedience required embracing them, they found other ways to remain lowly.

 
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