Shrek is back, and this one is a hit.

If Shrek 1 was “Tristan and Iseult” or “the Courtship of Miles Standish“, and Shrek II was “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner“, then Shrek 4 is “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

Shrek has a midlife crisis: Everyone loves him, and he cares for everyone around him. But he misses his days of freedom without his new responsibilities, which include Fiona, the triplets, and a cast of friends.

Enter Rumpelstiltskin: in exchange for one day as he used to be, Rumpelstiltskin asks for one day in his past life. But it’s a trick, because the day taken was the day Shrek was born: hence he will live in a world where Shrek never existed; and like Jimmy Stewart’s character in “It’s a wonderful life”, he has to confront the world that is much worse without his influence.

The world without Shrek is a kingdom run by Rumplestiltskin (The queen and king signed the kingdom over to him in exchange for helping their daughter escape her prison); and it means a Fiona reborn as the warrior queen of the ogres. All the other characters are similarly changed, except of course for the loquacious donkey.

Ah, but there is an “escape clause”: it can be broken by “love’s first kiss”.

But Fiona doesn’t love Shrek, and so even when he kisses her, it’s not “love’s first kiss”.

The movie, like the others in the series, is full of sly references to Hollywood films (the village of Rumplestiltskin is shown with the music of “Deliverance“).

But of course, this is a fairy tale, and Fiona falls in love, and gives Shrek his “Love’s first kiss” just in time.

So is it a classic?

Not as good as Shrek 2. But a lot better than Shrek 3.

The middle part dragged a bit, and the fights had few laughs or surprises.

But my 9 year old granddaughter loved it, and can’t wait for it to come out on DVD.

We saw the 2D version, so I can’t tell you if the 3 D version works.

But if it is hot, and you want to laugh at a movie where family values and true love triumphs, you could do a lot better than seeing Shrek Forever After.

I give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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