Sometimes there is a way that seems to
but in the end it is the way to death.
This fourth, and possibly last, installment in the Shrek series bears a strange resemblance to another recent release, the far less enjoyable Sex in the City 2. Shrek the father has become so depressed by the unexpected burdens of fatherhood that he longs for his unencumbered days when he felt the full powers of his ogreness. He even unthinkingly reveals his longing for his single days to Fiona. At the birthday party for his triplets an obnoxious kid pesters him by requesting, “Do the roar.” Feeling that he is now regarded as a domesticated has-been, Shrek is easy prey for the unscrupulous magician Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who offers him what seems like a great bargain.
Shrek can regain his singleness for one day by signing the contract which the crafty magician has drawn up. Only after signing the binding contract does Shrek realize that one should be more careful of what one wishes for. He is thrust into an alternate universe where he has not been born (It’s a Wonderful Life, anyone?) and in which, with the assistance of witches, Rumpelstiltskin is the tyrannical ruler. Fiona is the Amazonian head of the ogre resistance movement. Neither Donkey, Puss, nor she recognizes Shrek, and she is not about to accept or give the kiss that will restore Shrek’s previous life and relationships. By the terms of the contract Shrek has just one day, after which he will cease to have existed entirely.
The critics might be right that the freshness is gone, but the film is still wonderful family fare, with the usual moral. It is amusing to see that the relationship between Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Shrek (Mike Myers), as depicted in the first movie, is now reversed. Donkey works for the witches and puts off the ogre’s attempt to become friends. The new plight of the feisty cavalier Puss is especially amusing: he is now such a pampered house cat that he has become so fat that he can scarcely get to his feet when lying on his back. Fiona (Carmen Diaz) looks upon Shrek as a bumbling nuisance, and not the purveyor of true love. All of this adds up to a delightful tale that really needs no 3-D affects. Save your money and see the “flat” version.
For reflection/Discussion Spoilers follow.
1. Most fairytales end with “and they lived happily ever after.” How is this one different? How is living in a family more difficult than living alone? And how is it more fulfilling?
2. What do you think of Shrek’s telling Fiona of his wish to go back to his earlier life? How do our words often hurt each other?
3. How is Shrek’s getting what he wished for similar to your own experience of getting something and then finding out that there are unintended consequences?
4. When Shrek gets to kiss Fiona, what happens? Why do you think that nothing changes? Is his kiss really an expression of “true love,” or is it self-love? That is, was he thinking first of Fiona and her well being, or of his own? What finally “works” ?
5. What do you think has learned from his experience? Maybe something akin to what the apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have” ? (See Philippians 4:11) Have you learned this too? How is our acquisitive culture opposed to this?