(In theatres, June 2010) I practically wrote off the entire Shrek series somewhere during the third film (which I can barely remember seeing), so it’s a bit of a surprise to see that the franchise still had a enough life in it for a fourth instalment. Shrek Forever After even begins on a self-awareness binge, as Shrek realizes the price to be paid in boredom for a “forever after” ending: Always the same days, always the same jokes, always the same comic frustrations. His character and the series have become one in looking for something different. One parallel-universe reboot later, we get a sideway look at a few familiar characters (including a Fiona that looks quite a bit like an R. Crumb woman), more action and enough sentiments to hopefully wrap up the series. There are a few clever moments in the mix, including an energetic Pier Piper sequence that brought back the fun of the series’ musical high points, and an ingenious chain contraption late in the film that visually reinforces a partnership theme. Also notable is the relative lack of pop culture jokes, even though the musical choices still sound like a mix tape. The familiarity of Shrek Forever After (including its predictable character arcs) does little to bring it up above adequacy, but the result feels like a way to save the story’s dignity and just enough of an echo of past glories. Now, can we agree that there’s no need for a Shrek 5?