Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time

"Shrek" Films

Shrek Forever After (2010)

Shrek Films
Shrek (2001) | Shrek 2 (2004) | Shrek the Third (2007) | Shrek Forever After (2010)

"Shrek" Films - Part 4
Shrek Forever After (2010)
d. Mike Mitchell, 93 minutes

Film Plot Summary

The animated fantasy/adventure feature film began with the opening of a fairy-tale storybook and narration: "Once upon a time...," telling about King Harold (John Cleese) and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) who had a princess daughter named Fiona (Cameron Diaz). She was possessed with a terrible curse, "by day, a lovely princess, by night, a hideous ogre." "True love's kiss" was the only means to lift her curse as she was waiting in a castle guarded by a dragon (from the first film). "Forced to resort to more desperate measures," and thinking it was their "last hope," the King and Queen rode in their royal carriage to meet with "devious" and "deceitful" Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) in a run-down Crone's Nest carriage park (Deliverance's Banjo tune played).

To free Fiona from the curse, they were about to sign a contract with Rumpelstiltskin to hand over their entire kingdom of Far Far Away, using one of his giant goose Fifi's quills dipped in magic ink. A messenger interrupted to say that the Princess had been saved by green ogre Shrek (Mike Myers), known for his fearsome roar, and the contract was ripped up. "True love's kiss led to marriage and ogre babies."

The film returned to the present, as Rumpelstiltskin ripped up the fairy-tale storybook in a Far Far Away bookstore run by Pinocchio (Cody Cameron). He was incensed at its happy ending, and bitter at Shrek. Pinocchio kicked Rumpelstiltskin out of the store, after he offered a deal to make him a real boy. He made a fateful wish: "I wish that ogre was never born!"

Fiona and Shrek lived in the swamp with their three children, a happy family stuck with routine, day-to-day chores of changing diapers, while a Star Tours Chariot often brought sight-seeking villagers to their "roadside attraction" home for a look at the "lovable lug" celebrity, no longer feared as a "real ogre." Suffering from a mid-life crisis, Shrek was beginning to wonder if they were actually living "happily ever after," annoyed by his long-time friends, including a married Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas).

Things were getting on Shrek's nerves at the time of his kids' first birthday bash party celebrated with the town's villagers. He became annoyed by the birthday cake, decorated with a cute ogre face named Sprinkles, and was insulted by the comparison. Things got worse when the greedy Three Little Pigs (Cody Cameron) ate the birthday cake (and a second cake as well as cupcakes), and an annoying boy named Butter Pants kept asking him to "Do the roar." At first, Shrek politely replied: "An ogre only roars when he's angry," but then frustratingly blasted everyone with his famous roar. Shrek smashed his fist into a new cake, again decorated with Sprinkles' face - reminding him of how he had changed from what he used to be. He ruined the spirit of the party, angry that he had lost his ogre nature ("Now I'm just a jolly green joke"). Outside, he told Fiona: "All I want is for things to go back to the way they used to be" - before he rescued Fiona from the Dragon's Keep. Fiona reminded him that he had three beautiful children, his loving wife, and friends ("You have everything"), but Shrek was the only one who couldn't recognize his happiness. Sneaky Rumpelstiltskin was happily eavesdropping.

Refusing to apologize for being an ogre, Shrek decided to walk home when he came upon Rumpelstiltskin with a broken carriage, pretending to be stuck. After fixing it, Shrek was offered a ride and a "liquid libation", and he expressed his one wish to return to the good-old-days: "Sometimes I wish I had just one day to feel like a real ogre again." Rumpelstiltskin offered a "magical transaction," another contract ("Ogre For a Day") to sign, to fulfill Shrek's wish. One day from his past (that he wouldn't remember when he was a child) would be selected that he would have to give up. The moment he signed, Rumpelstiltskin said: "Have a nice day," and Shrek's current world disappeared.

In a montage of scenes (to the Carpenters' tune "Top of the World") set in an alternate reality, Shrek was again feared by tour groups, villagers and animals. Wanted posters in the forest pictured him and ogress Fiona. He ran back to his swamp home and found that it didn't exist. He shouted out: "All right, Rumpel. This wasn't part of the deal." A band of flying witches attacked, throwing an apple-tear gas bomb, pumpkin bombs, and capturing him with skull-shaped clamps and chains. He woke up in a caged-jail, on a carriage driven by the witches and pulled by singing Donkey - who didn't know him. They arrived in the degenerated and derelict Far Far Away, pulling up to Rumpelstiltskin's luxurious palace, where many captured, filthy and disgusting ogres were taken to be enslaved. The interior of the palace was a dance club (with a large disco ball), filled with dancing witches, where pampered Rumpelstiltskin was enthroned and reigned supreme.

In chains, Shrek was dragged in, but he promised Donkey: "Don't worry, Donkey, I'll get us our lives back." Pinocchio was negotiating a contract to be made into a real boy as Shrek arrived. Mr. Stiltskin announced: "Ladies, this is the guy that made all of this possible." The King and Queen had signed over their kingdom to him, after Stiltskin promised all their problems would disappear - "and then they disappeared." Shrek argued that he had ended Fiona's curse, but Stiltskin differed: "How could you when you never existed." Shrek had bargained away his own day of birth, a day from his past that he couldn't remember, and as Stiltskin reminded him: "Since you were never born, once this day comes to an end, so will you." Shrek would disappear altogether in this alternate universe. He had never met Fiona and his kids didn't exist ("How's that for a metaphysical paradox? Looks like you got exactly what you wanted").

Angered, Shrek freed himself, stole a witch's broomstick, and snatched the reluctant Donkey to escape from the palace. After the chase, they crash-landed together in the forest. Thinking he was being "ass-napped," the fearful Donkey tried numerous times to run away from Shrek, even after the ogre attempted to befriend himself by singing: "You've Got a Friend." Ultimately, Donkey was convinced to trust him when he witnessed Shrek crying ("I've never seen an ogre cry"). Shrek had pulled his daughter Felicia's squeak toy from his pocket and became sentimental and sad. Shrek admitted his problem: "I was tricked into signing something I shouldn't have." Donkey studied the contract Shrek had signed to decipher its "sneaky" hidden exit-clause or loophole -- using his "polygonic foldability skills" of origami. It first read "Try Lou's Bliss," but readjusted read: "True Love's Kiss." The kiss would render the contract "null and void" and give back Shrek's original life. Not knowing Fiona's location, Shrek and Donkey rushed to the Dragon's Keep castle where he entered the tower bedroom in which Fiona had awaited rescue. He saw tally marks on a brick wall and her left-behind crown on the bed. Shrek asked himself: "If I didn't save Fiona, then who did?"

Donkey's nose, using Fiona's scent on her discarded monogrammed handkerchief (a symbol of their love), led him to a stack of freshly-made waffles on a tree stump in the forest -- a lick of syrup triggered the suspicious trap. Donkey fell into an underground hole under the stump, where they both tumbled into a large cavern filled with a group of Resistance-fighting warrior ogres. One of the ogres told Shrek that their goal was to free Far Far Away: "We fight for freedom and ogres everywhere!" Shrek was recruited to join them, and met their leader, a Brunhilde-like warrioress named Fiona who didn't recognize him. She had escaped the castle where imprisoned, still cursed. She rebuffed him and warned: "Personal space is very important to me," and then summoned the warriors to be prepared to move out that night. Shrek's explanation about how he was married to Fiona and how he ended up there was interrupted by the sight of witches on patrol, the third one that day. The ogres hid themselves to avoid detection.

Mr. Stiltskin met with his cohort of witches, feeding them cupcakes. He first downplayed Shrek's escape, but then became enraged at them: "If he shares a kiss with Fiona by sunrise, it is the end of the world. Our world! My empire!" He threatened them with a goblet of water, soliciting suggestions to defeat Shrek, which included "faster brooms, pointier hats." Another said: "a professional bounty hunter" and was rewarded by being splashed with the water, causing her to melt away ("What a world!" as in The Wizard of Oz). However, Stiltskin reconsidered: "Actually, not a bad idea," and decided to lead the night's ogre hunt himself, with his hired hunter. Before venturing out shortly later, Mr. Stiltskin met his hired bounty hunter, the Pied Piper, who had an adjustable tuner on his flute. He demonstrated its power by making the mocking witches break-dance against their will.

Fiona discussed strategy with her ogre war-lords to ambush Stiltskin's caravan, for once out of the safety of his "filthy witch's nest." At the same time, Shrek was planning how to get Fiona to kiss him before sunrise. In Fiona's quarters, he was greeted by Fiona's pet: retired, pampered and semi-obese Puss In Boots ("Feed me, if you dare") who had "gone soft," without traditional hat, belt, and boots. When Fiona arrived, Shrek presented her with "a little something to ease the tension" - a gift basket (with a heart-shaped box of slugs, skunk-scented candle, and coupons, including "one free kiss"). She rejected his wooing and romantic gift, claiming she was trying to "run a revolution" and that the only thing that would make her happy was Stiltskin's head. She threw Shrek out of her tent ("Go make yourself useful"). Shrek was heartbroken when his gift basket ended up in the trash and he was called a "clueless lover boy." Donkey reminded Shrek: "The only thing that Fiona cares about is her cause."

Shrek returned to Fiona, who was practicing weaponry skills before the operation against Stiltskin. He pretended interest in her armory, but failed to impress her ("You're going to get yourself killed at the ambush tonight"). But there was a spark of their old love, recognized by Puss In Boots, when they briefly sparred together (to the tune of "Darling I Do") and then looked at each other. She ordered him to leave to get ready for their mission. Puss told Shrek to be encouraged: "It was as if, for one moment, Fiona had actually found her true love!" Puss realized Shrek was the true one because he knew of Fiona's curse. He told Shrek that he must prove his love to her, by telling her "something that only her true love would know."

At the ambush site, the camouflaged ogres awaited the caravan, while Fiona scouted ahead to provide a signal at her lookout post. Out of position, Shrek followed Fiona after taking Puss' advice, to show her who he really was - to "fix everything." As he told her about her secret curse, her signal was delayed due to the distraction. Fearing the caravan would get away, the ogres attacked under impatient chief Brogan's (Jon Hamm) orders, but they found it was a trap. The carriage was empty, and the Pied Piper was hiding in a Fifi statue. Meanwhile, Shrek was telling Fiona secrets:

  • I know you sing so beautifully that birds explode.
  • I know that when you sign your name, you put a heart over the "I".
  • I know that when you see a shooting star, you cross your fingers on both hands, squinch up your nose, and you make a wish.
  • I know that you don't like the covers wrapped around your feet.
  • I know that you sleep by candlelight because every time you close your eyes, you're afraid you're gonna wake up back in that tower.
  • I know that the reason you turn human every day is because you've never been kissed, well, by me.

The Piper's tune ("Shake Your Groove Thing") forced the ogres to dance, including Shrek and Fiona. Unaffected by the ogre tune, Donkey and Puss in a carriage tried to whisk the two away from the sound of the piper's flute "before they fandango themselves into oblivion." After all were rescued, Shrek again insisted on a kiss from Fiona: "It's the only way to save your friends....You used to believe that a single kiss could solve everything." As she was leaving, she abruptly turned and kissed Shrek, but then wiped off her mouth. The kiss was ineffective to rescue everyone - because it wasn't really "true love's kiss." Fiona had become disillusioned over the years waiting for a true love "that never came" in the miserable tower of the dragon's keep ("It's all just a big fairy tale"). She told Shrek: "Where were you when I needed you?" Shrek knew why the kiss failed: "The kiss didn't work because Fiona doesn't love me."

The caged, imprisoned ogres were held in Stiltskin's palace. The "tyrannical dictator" addressed his Far Far Away subjects through his Magic Mirror, accusing "rat-munching ogre" Shrek of jeopardizing their lives. He enticed his citizens with a reward for capturing Shrek: "For whomever brings me this ogre shall receive the deal of a lifetime." He promised "total and complete happiness...Dazzling radiant fulfillment! All your greatest wishes!...Your wildest dreams. Anything you could ever want. No strings attached."

Shrek felt bleak about the failed kiss: "It's over." He realized he would be defeated if the sun rose: "There is no tomorrow. There's no day after that, and there's no day after that day after that! My life was perfect and I'm never going to get it back." He told Donkey that he knew he had wrongfully signed the contract: "I didn't know what I had until it was gone...I didn't know what I had." Shrek learned from Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon) that Stiltskin had offered a bounty ("Deal of a Lifetime") to the populace in exchange for turning in Shrek and Fiona. Shrek had an idea about how to fix everything: "I'm gonna give Rumpelstiltskin exactly what he wants" - he would bravely turn himself in and get the prize. Shrek requested freedom for the other ogres (not the return of his own life). His wish was granted after he surrendered, but the crafty Stiltskin kept Fiona, claiming she wasn't a full-ogre: "But Fiona isn't all ogre, is she? By day, one way, by night, another." The two were both chained up in the same underground dungeon, just short of reach from one another. Donkey, Puss and the freed ogres schemed to free them (the ogres stealthily entered the palace in a newly-installed disco ball).

Stiltskin opened the ballroom floor to reveal Shrek and Fiona chained up below. He released a "princess' worst nightmare" - the Dragon: "Fiona's old flame, the keeper of the keep," to feed upon them. During the chaos of the rescue, Donkey fearfully wooed Dragon (his past wife), and they fell in love again ("We're in love"). Working together as a team with their different lengths of chain, Shrek and Fiona coordinated efforts to entangle Dragon and tumble her to the ground. Cornered, Stiltskin fled atop Fifi, but was caught by Shrek's lasso, and fell into Fiona's arms. She proclaimed, "Victory is ours!", although daybreak was coming. As Shrek began to disappear from existence at dawn, he struggled to tell her of their home life together, with a family of three young ogre kids. He told her about the "best" part of the day: "I got the chance to fall in love with you all over again." She kissed him - their 'true love's kiss' nullified Stiltskin's contract and restored Shrek back to his own world. Fiona was also still an ogre, "true love's form."

Back at his kids' birthday party mid-roar, Shrek was relieved to be given another chance, to fully appreciate everything that he had. He hugged Fiona: "I've never been better." Their final exchange ended the film, before the animated credits:

Shrek - "You know, I always thought that I rescued you from the Dragon's Keep."
Fiona - "You did."
Shrek - "No. It was you that rescued me."

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

With a production budget of $165 million, and box-office gross receipts of $239 million (domestic) and $752.6 million (worldwide).

In 2013, it was still the 13th highest-grossing animated film of all time.

Shrek Forever After (2010) was the fourth (and last) highest-grossing film in the 4-film Shrek series.

It was the eighth highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year 2010. It was one of five of 2010's 10 highest-grossing movies that were released in 3-D.

With no Academy Awards nominations.

There was confusion about the film's title, as it was also called Shrek: The Final Chapter.

The film was derivative of Groundhog Day (1993) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

(Mike Myers)

Princess Fiona
(Cameron Diaz)

(Eddie Murphy)

Shrek's Three Ogre Kids
(Farkle, Felicia, Fergus)

Puss In Boots
(Antonio Banderas)

(Cody Cameron)

King Harold
(John Cleese)

Queen Lillian
(Julie Andrews)

(Walt Dohrn)

The Pied Piper


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