Thursday, 15 July 2010
Mike Mitchell, Shrek Forever After (2010)
As per previous post: yes, there are some films I do get to see on their initial cinematic release. This is one.
Now, I was quite willing to hate this film, not least because, for logistical reasons, the only showing to which I could take Lily was 3D, with the associated monstrous inflation of ticket-price (3D adds almost nothing to it, by the way). But in the event I didn't hate it at all. I rather liked it. Some of it is over-indulgent franchise blather, but most of it is sharp and funny, often laugh-out-loud funny ([snide, nasal voice] 'do-the-roar!') and the ending is pretty touching. It made my eyes tingle with the anticipation of tears, actually; although I was manly and English enough to choke them back down.
If I have a substantive criticism it would be that Dreamworks, aiming at that necessary balance between 'we must make this film entertaining to kids' and 'we must make this film entertaining to the adults who are accompanying their kids', end up too largely on the latter side. It's really a film about being a father, and the compromises that such a role enforces upon the dashing, independent, bachelor sensibilities of the male. Shrek, oppressed by his happy family life, wishes for just one day when he could be shot of all of it. He signs a contract with evil Rumpelstiltskin to that effect: he gets one day as a proper ogre, and in return he sacrifices one day from his past. Only after the contract has been signed does Shrek realise his mistake: Rumpelstiltskin has taken the day of Shrek's birth, and the ogre finds himself in a world in which he was never born. This thoroughly science fictional, alternate timeline conceit is rather nicely done; much less derivatively It's A Wonderful Life than I thought it would be, and elaborated with some rigour. But I'm not convinced an eight year old girl -- to take the example of my companion -- found the emotional dilemma and heart-tingling resolution as relevant to her life as I did to mine.