Shrek Forever After, directed by Mike Mitchell, continues the story of the reformed ogre Shrek. This animated 3D movie retains the previous all-star vocal cast, with Mike Myers (Shrek), Cameron Diaz (Fiona), Eddie Murphy (Donkey), Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), Julie Andrews (Queen Lillian) and John Cleese (King Harold).
This fourth movie in the series depicts Shrek’s growing discontent with everyday family life with his wife Fiona and three ogre children. One day, in a fit of depression, Shrek foolishly makes an agreement with the evil magician Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn). The agreement allows Shrek to once again become a real ogre for a day, returning to his former frightening form, in exchange for one day from his childhood. This has unforeseen and devastating consequences for Shrek. He becomes trapped in an alternative reality without family or friends.
Soon realising his mistake, Shrek sets out to reverse the pact and return to his former predictable, but newly attractive, life.
A man’s discontent with his wife and family; separation from family and loved ones; war
This movie includes a great deal of violence. For example:
- Shrek roars and then smashes a fist through his child’s birthday cake.
- Shrek roars at and frightens villagers, who respond by throwing their farming tools at him and then running away.
- One character in a Punch and Judy-style puppet show bashes the other over the head.
- Living gingerbread men are placed in an arena to fight much larger wild animal cookie creatures.
- Characters throw tomatoes at Shrek, who is being transported in a prison-cart.
- Witches circle and then chase Shrek.
- Fiona holds a knife against Shrek’s throat.
- Shrek and Fiona fight each other with medieval weapons and then in hand-to-hand combat.
- Ogres fight witches with medieval weapons in several battle scenes.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under the age of five. For example:
- Witches chase and menace other characters.
- A flute player uses magic to force other characters to dance.
- A giant flying dragon swoops down on Shrek and his friends.
- Several witches and other characters disintegrate into fireballs.
- A cat rears up and hisses threateningly at a donkey.
- A goose rapidly expands and then explodes.
In addition, the 3D component of this movie might create some frightening moments for children in this age group. For example, everyday objects suddenly emerge on the screen and appear to move out towards the audience. Because of this, close-up images of even simple movements such as galloping horses could be disturbing for some young viewers.
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, there are several scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Shrek is discontented and angry with his family.
- Shrek finds his lost daughter’s doll, and this re-awakens his feelings of sadness at being separated from the people he loves.
- Witches whip a donkey who is hitched to their cart.
- Witches hold Shrek down with poles attached to a leather brace around his neck.
- Several characters fall hundreds of metres over a cliff and into the sea below.
- Shrek and the donkey smash through a vast glass ceiling and fall dozens of metres onto a stone floor.
- A cat slashes the donkey with his claws.
- A dragon becomes ensnared in chains and is pulled suddenly to the ground.
- Pigs eat a living gingerbread man.
- Shrek begins fading into a spreading golden haze, with the implication that he is about to die.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
There is one veiled sexual reference in this movie, when the words, ‘sweet, luscious, tasty’ are apparently used to describe a woman. We soon find out that the phrase refers to a plate of waffles.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie includes several scenes that show adult characters drinking alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some mild depictions of nudity and sexualised activity. For example, there are scenes of Shrek and Fiona in bed. Also, several sequences show Shrek and Fiona kissing passionately.
There is nothing of concern in the movie itself. But marketing of products associated with the movie is likely to increase in the weeks around its release.
None of concern
Ideas to discuss with your children
Shrek Forever After is a very cleverly crafted computer animation. Many of the animated characters, such as Donkey and Puss in Boots, are very well depicted. The 3D component is also extremely effective, without being over-done. But adults might find the story line rather thin and unsatisfying. In addition, you might feel that the movie is unnecessarily violent for your children.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include contentment, loyalty, faithfulness, courage and unselfishness.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the real-life consequences of violence, as opposed to the fantasy outcomes portrayed here.