When I first saw the previews to this movie, I was pretty bummed about it. The last two Shrek movies seemed to get progressively worse—less funny, less original plots, and generally more annoying. That alone made a fourth film seem like a bad idea. Then, when we heard that in the fourth movie Shrek would be whisked away from his family for an entirely different adventure—sans babies—I was pissed.
Are babies and families, after all, not inspirational for adventure? Can Hollywood not fill theater seats if the main character is saddled with a wife and family? This was an opportunity to show that families can, indeed, be present within a wild adventure—and perhaps without the lameness of, say, Spy Kids—and the filmmakers instead opted to do a whole alternate reality storyline because kids and wives and domesticity are simply not fun.
But after I saw Fiona in warrior garb, I had to see the movie. She’s my favorite (naturally) and in the past two films it felt like we saw less and less of her—perhaps not necessarily on screen, but definitely less of her as the awesomely badass chick we saw in the original Shrek. And I wasn’t disappointed with her in this movie, either. Without Shrek, Fiona is the revolutionary leader of the ogre resistance. Instead of waiting and waiting for a prince (which she initially did), she saved herself from the castle tower, and instead of her nighttime ogre persona, her daytime princess is considered to be her curse. Wow, right? Of course, she can fight, she’s tough, and she is so resourceful and her own person, we do wish that she’d still demonstrate these characteristics in her “real” life character. (Which makes me wonder: would Fiona be better without Shrek? She’d be cooler, I think, but perhaps not necessarily happier.)
What really moved me about the movie was how Shrek finally realized how good he had it with Fiona and his kiddos (as well as his adoring friends and fans). The animation portrayed his heartache very well—I don’t think we’ve ever seen Shrek cry before, have we?—and his re-wooing of his wife was a treat to see. In the end, we can take away a true “forever after,” in which we don’t just witness the hero and heroine walk into the sunset and remain in the dark, but see what happens when they start a life together, experience loss (however temporary that loss may be), and come to an actual resolution that’s much more fitting than a plain old “happily ever after.”
Yes, it was annoying how Fiona was just automatically happy with her domestic life while Shrek was presented as the disgruntled, stereotypical male; after all, women don’t like daily monotony or having no time for themselves, either—and if her alternate reality persona was any indication, this is one ogre who could really change the world with her wicked revolutionary skills! But she was also changing the world through her children, being a good friend and wife, and living her days as she liked to—as she wished, in the beginning of the film, for every day to be like the one before. And perhaps that’s something we can all take away from the movie, too.