By the laws of diminishing returns, this fourth outing for the inexplicably Scottish ogre should have been an utter dog.

Back in 2001, the original Shrek was an incredible experience. Jaw-dropping CGI coupled with sassy characters, crisp, knowing dialogue and jokes aplenty. A sequel was inevitable and in 2004, sure enough, we were given Shrek 2. Truth be told, I enjoyed it as much as the original. The story was just as fresh, the animation actually went as far as to dislocate the jaw and seeing Puss In Boots pull that face for the first time was wonderful. We’ll all remember 2007 as being the year where it all went horribly wrong. Shrek The Third was diabolical. Tired and laboured, it’s difficult to think back to any great jokes or redeeming features.

So I didn’t hold out much hope for Shrek Forever After and nor did I think 3D was going to be enough to save it. The 3D really doesn’t add much to the movie but I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this and if indeed this is the final outing, it’s gone out on a higher note than it would’ve done had they stopped at three.

Shrek is at a low ebb. His days are melting into one, he’s no longer the fearsome creature he used to be and he’s become something of a celebrity bus tourist attraction. Strangely, or perhaps not, Shrek sees himself in pretty much the same terms as many see the franchise.

There then follows an odd few moments as Shrek appears to suffer a nervous breakdown and he starts to wonder what his life would’ve been like had he not rescued Princess Fiona. Enter the diminutive Rumpelstiltskin, a Tarantino lookalike with a penchant for contracts and granting wishes who hoodwinks Shrek into signing up to a day of anonymity where he can roar to his heart’s content. However, in return, the fate of Far Far Away and of Shrek himself are in the balance.

It’s a mainstay for situation comedies and high-numbered sequels: stick our heroes in It’s A Wonderful Life. The next stage after that is to put them in a holiday special. So seeing Shrek interact with all his friends who no longer recognise him does have a clutching at straws sort of feel about it, but it kinda works. And okay, so Donkey singing R&B hits has been done to death in the previous three films, but it still is kinda funny. And alright, so Puss pulling that face yadda yadda yadda.

You get the idea. There’s not an awful lot new on view — the exception to this is Rumpelstiltskin who is a welcome addition to the cast and has some of the best lines and mannerisms — and the plot seems to run out of steam and descend into pointless schmaltz before the end, but I couldn’t help but enjoy it. The witches were genuinely scary, the Boadicea subplot had more potential than it was allowed but still proved an interesting distraction and, as usual, it was the little asides and throwaway gags that really made it. Perhaps worryingly, in a cinema full of children, there wasn’t much in the way of laughter or excitement, so maybe the kids have got bored with the whole affair before me.

So, yeah. A definite step-up from version three, but let that be an end of it, yes? Let’s have no more. Let the surly, green ogre die now before we see him and Donkey ‘avin it large in Ibiza. Okay? Okay.

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