Magazine article The Spectator

Let's Blame Fabio

Magazine article The Spectator

Let's Blame Fabio

Article excerpt

Shrek Forever After

U, Nationwide

Shrek Forever After proves, once and for all, that this franchise is now a busted flush - personally, I've never seen a flush so busted - and while it would be wrong to blame Fabio Capello, just because he's being blamed for everything else around here, let's do it anyhow. Fabio: how could you? Yes, it is wrong, but it's also jolly handy, and kind of fun. I even blamed Fabio for meaning to go to the gym this morning and then not bothering. That's how handy he is.

Anyway, Shrek. Shrek is the big, silly, noisome green ogre whom, in the past, I have loved properly and sincerely. But the Shrek in Forever After is not my Shrek, just as he's not the Shrek of the first film (sublime) or the second (sublime plus). The rot set in with the third film, I think, and now, with the fourth, it's decomposed and gone to that black sludge you get at the bottom of the bin. This Shrek has no heart or comic zing or propulsive wit. This Shrek doesn't even try to sell you any fart jokes. I don't usually find farts in the least bit funny - have you ever done one in the dentist's chair?

Mortifying - but that was the thing about Shrek: he could sell fart jokes to grown-ups who don't even like fart jokes. I would have taken my hat off to him, had I worn a hat, but not my weave. They're a thousand dollars a pop, remember. Honestly, what is the point of telling you stuff if you just forget it?

Although Fabio must, of course, accept most of the blame, the shift to 3D probably has not helped. To make sense of the technology, lengthy action set-pieces have to override all else and, here, they're treated as intrinsically funny and engaging, even though they are so not. Good, characterled comedy is funny. Good, character-led storytelling is engaging. A few rocks coming at you out of the screen is neither here nor there. And as for Puss and Donkey, they've been backgrounded, which is as tragic as it is weird, as they were both such great characters. 'Parfait, parfait. Everybody loves parfait.' That's Donkey from the first movie and it still makes me laugh, even though I still have no idea what parfait is. 'Parfait, parfait. Everybody loves parfait. …

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