Friday, June 4, 2010

Shrek 4: The Final Chapter

Shrek 4

Me: So the question really is: Just how interesting is the life of an ogre? The Shrek series of movies have all kind of picked up where the last one has left off with little time in between. That's fine, I suppose. It cuts down on non-canon fanfic opportunities, though I'm not sure if Shrek really had to worry too much about that. However, it has made me wonder about something. The first Shrek movie ended and it was all kinds of popular and it got a ride/attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. The Shrek 4-D experience ride picks up right where the original Shrek ended and involves the ghost of that short king from the movie whose name I don't recall who was voiced by that actor who used to be decent, but whose name I forgot ever since he dropped off my radar from being on 3rd Rock. Anyhow, that was all fine and dandy. But then a sequel came out. And the Shrek 2 movie starts immediately at the end of the first Shrek, but does not reference the events that take place in the Shrek 4-D experience attraction. So, does that mean that the Universal Studios Shrek ride did or didn't happen? Is that storyline canon in the Shrek universe? That has always plagued me since we went to Orlando and went on that ride.

For the record, I did ask two of the attendants at the Shrek ride/gift shop and neither could tell me if it is canon. Neither really understood what canon meant. My fixation on stuff like this is also why my wife doesn't always think I'm the best vacation partner.

Still, with that question unanswered, I suppose it hasn't caused too much difficulty with the consistency and integrity of the Shrek universe. I mean, I'm happily pretending the third movie never happened.

But I digress. Shrek 4 picks up with Shrek and Fiona living a humble marital life with their three kids. Shrek misses the old days of being a feared ogre and being a loner and is going through a sort of ogre version of a mid-life crisis. Enter Rumpelstiltskin who is given some flashback backstory of how he almost became king and was thwarted by Shrek rescuing Fiona in the first movie (which is now accepted as canon). Anyhow, he offers Shrek a chance to be a feared ogre again for one day. In exchange, he gets one day from Shrek. Shrek quickly takes the deal, since that is what men do and our penises never let us realize how much we had until we lost it. However, the day Rumpelstiltskin takes from Shrek is the day he was born, so Shrek was never born and Fiona was never rescued and therefore Rumpelstiltskin was able to make the deal and become king.

Shrek just has the one day he received to be a feared ogre to break the contract and turn things back to how they were. He has to do this with true love's kiss, so he must woo Fiona all over again and win her heart before the sun rises.

The basic issue that I had with this movie is that it emphasizes one of the issues that I have with time travel. You see, I love time travel and am fascinated by time travel stories and I'm kind of obsessed by it.

One of the things that I have asked of every serious relationship girlfriend that I have had (including my wife) early in our relationship, is to not tell me if they have met me before when they were younger. You see, if let's say, at some point in my life I am able to travel in time and decide to go back in time to fool around with an 18 year old version of my wife, she would have those memories of when she was 18 and would have probably brought them up to me at some point when I met her in her 20's. This would lead me to believe that since she has no memories of me from earlier, that I won't ever get my time machine and that kind of bums me out. However, if I make her promise to never tell me if I did meet her at an earlier age, then her lack of pointing it out to me is fully rational and it lends to the possibility that I still make obtain a time machine in my future to mess around with my wife. So, with that promise for her not to tell me coming up early in our relationship, I still have some hope that I will eventually one day gain access to time travel.

But then, you think, why haven't I gone back in time to meet myself and give myself lotto numbers or earlier access to a time machine? Well, the answer is simple: I have made a promise to myself not to do that. Because since I have not yet met myself, I would have to assume that I will not ever gain access to a time machine. However, since I know that I have pledged to myself not to meet myself in the past, it is fully rational that I may one day get a time machine and not go back and meet myself, so there is still hope that I will get one someday.

So my hopes of gaining access to a time machine have been in the back of my head as I've plodded along in life for a long while, since I've covered every contingency to explain why I haven't visited myself or been told by someone that they've seen a creepy older future version of myself stalking them in their wilder teenage years. This has been fine and dandy.

Then I became a father. And, believe me, I am not begrudging that at all. However, it changed my time travel fantasies. You see, before being a father, I'm sure I could plop around back in time and fool around with a young version of my wife and come back to my present and still know enough about my wife to woo and win her over. Sure, making sure our paths crossed might be tricky, but I know enough about her that I am certain that I could find her and win her over again (if need be from messing up the timeline) and we would be our happy little family again.

But now, as a father, that is different. I wouldn't want to go back into time before my daughter was born for fear of changing the exact circumstances of her conception and birth. It was all fine and dandy when it was just me and my wife; I'm sure I could win her back and get what I had again if the timeline changed. However, seeing that Molly is born as Molly is much more tricky. So, now, my time travel fantasies are more limited in scope. And I don't begrudge my daughter or think of it as a bad thing. It's just that she's more important to my than fulfilling my time travel fantasies.

That was one thing that they neglected to tell you at birthing class: your time travel dreams will forever be changed.

So, um, where was I?

Uh, Shrek 4. Shrek's deal with Rumpelstiltskin changed the timeline and he's most concerned with making Fiona happy instead of lamenting the fact that his kids now do not exist. That's just this weird parental negligence that he seems to have. I mean, perhaps not everyone has already thought out the consequences of time travel in regards to their children ahead of time, but after he took the deal and figured out what was going on, he should have at least been a little upset at that fact.

But then again, this was a kid's movie and Molly didn't seem to have a real issue with the issues that the movie compounded onto me. So perhaps I should judge it like a kid's movie and ignore the time travel existential parental issues that were barely realized within the movie, even if they are specific struggles that I have dealt with and overcome in my own philosophy about using time travel to bang my teenaged wife.

So, in that regards, Puss-in-Boots was cute, as was Cookie. It was definitely better than the third movie, but not as good as the first two. Hopefully, they've really realized that the Shrek well has been tapped dry and this will be the last movie (although they are supposedly planning a Puss-in-Boots spin-off).

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think of the movie, Shrek 4?
Molly: Huh? Why did you say Shrek 4?
Chuckie: Because it was the fourth movie, Pixie.
Molly: Just call it "Shrek".

Chuckie: Okay. We'll just call it Shrek. What did you think of the movie, Shrek?
Molly: I liked the girl. And the kitty cat. I like kitties! Meow! Meow!

Chuckie: What did you like about the girl?
Molly: That her liked Shrek.

Chuckie: What did you like about the kitty?
Molly: Um, the girl liked the kitty cat. And the girl said, "Who's a pretty kitty?" And the kitty cat said, "Me." (She laughs.) That's so funny, Daddy. That part cracked me up.

Chuckie: Did you like the movie?
Molly: Yes.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Because... um... with the... um... the babysits. Daddy, there's two girls and one boy of the babies?
Chuckie: No, Pixie, there were two boys and one girl ogre baby.
Molly: Oh. Well, did one of the boys or the girl like the squeaky thing?
Chuckie: The girl.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: What was the movie about?
Molly: The babies woke Shrek up with the squeaky toy.

Chuckie: After they woke up Shrek, what happened?
Molly: Him was mad. Then Shrek was trying to save the girl. He went to look for her in the castle and her wasn't there.

Chuckie: Then what?
Molly: I don't know. Maybe he got out of the castle and kissed the girl. (She giggles.) Kiss. Kiss. I want to kiss my boyfriends.

Chuckie: Who are your boyfriends?
Molly: Vyvon, Brice, Garrot and Craig. How many is that, Daddy?

Chuckie: That's four.
Molly: Why not five?

Chuckie: Daddy doesn't judge.
Molly: Okay. Then five.

Chuckie: Was the movie too scary for you?
Molly: No. Not scary for me.

Chuckie: Was the movie funny?
Molly: Um, just the parts that made me laugh. The other parts not so much. (She starts to sing "Rose's Turn" from the Broadway musical Gypsy. She knows it from Kurt singing it on "Glee". She omits a few lines, but otherwise gets the tune right.)
All that work and what did it getcha.
Thanks a lot and out with the garbage.
They take bows and you're batting zero.
I had a dream, Dad.
It wasn't for me, Dad.
And where would you be, Rachel Berrie?

Chuckie: Beautiful singing, Pixie. Why did you sing it?
Molly: Because I like it, Daddy. Daddy, is Glee on tonight?
Chuckie: No, Pixie. It's on Tuesday night.
Molly: Okay. Are we going to review Glee?
Chuckie: Maybe once the season is finished we can if you want to.
Molly: Okay.

Chuckie: So, how would you rate the movie?
Molly: You mean give the things?

Chuckie: Sure.
Molly: Um, all of the stars. And Daddy, you have to say "Out of what?".

Chuckie: Okay. Out of what?
Molly: Out of six.

Chuckie: So it gets all of the stars out of six?
Molly: Uh-huh.

Chuckie: Is that all?
Molly: No. All of the moons.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: (Sternly) Daddy, there's only one moon.

Chuckie: Okay, okay. Good point, Sweetie.
Molly: And now the suns. It gets all of them, Daddy.

Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of twenty-sixty.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like this movie, Sweetie?
Molly: Yes, I think a lot of people would like it.

Chuckie: Who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Everyone. (She starts singing "Rose's Turn" again.)

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Shrek?
Molly: Um, I think someone would really like it. Someone really special.
Chuckie: Who?
Molly: (Holds her arms out wide and smiles brightly.) Me!

So, that's our review. For a Shrek movie is was watchable and much better than the third one. However, it shows that the well has run dry since they basically are just using plot from the first movie again (and even ending on "I'm a Believer" again). For Shrek universe canon, it introduced a previously unseen flashback scene and also did not sort out whether or not the Universal Studios attraction is an official part of the story or not. As a deep discussion and reference to the existential difficulties that come with being a parent and time travel paradox and alternate timelines, the movie fell flat. But Puss-in-Boots was kind of funny.

I give it three out of five stars as a family movie that has some funny bits, fewer pop culture references than the other movies and only a smattering of poop jokes. However, it gets zero out of five stars as an existential metaphysical primer.
Molly gives all of the stars (out of six) and all of the moons (out of the one moon) and all of the suns (out of twenty-sixty). Apparently everyone would love the movie, especially if you are really special (though not so humble) like her.

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