Australian Council on Children and the Media

Shrek Forever After

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 10 (Violence, Scary scenes, Themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Shrek Forever After
  • a review of Shrek Forever After completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 10 June 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 5-10 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, scary scenes and themes
Children over the age of 10 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Shrek Forever After
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and animated violence
Length 93 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Shrek Forever After, directed by Mike Mitchell, continues the story of the reformed ogre Shrek.  This animated 3D film retains the previous all-star vocal cast, with Mike Myers (Shrek); Cameron Diaz (Fiona); Eddie Murphy (Donkey); Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots); Julie Andrews (Queen Lillian) and John Cleese (King Harold).

This fourth movie in the series depicts Shrek’s growing discontent with everyday family life with his wife Fiona and three ogre children.  One day, in a fit of depression and self-involvement, Shrek foolishly makes an agreement with the evil magician Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn).  The resulting contract allows Shrek to once again become a real ogre for a day, returning to his former villager-frightening persona, in exchange for one day from his childhood.  This has devastating unforseen consequences for Shrek, who becomes trapped in an alternate reality without family or friends.  Soon realising his mistake, Shrek sets out to reverse the pact and return to his former predictable, but newly attractive life.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

A father’s discontent with his wife and family; separation from family and loved ones; war.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a great deal of violence in this movie including:

  • Shrek roars and then smashes a fist through his child’s birthday cake
  • Several scenes depict Shrek roaring at and frightening villagers, who respond by throwing their farming tools at him and then running away
  • One character in a “Punch and Judy”-style puppet show bashes the other over the head
  • Living gingerbread men are placed in an arena to fight much larger wild animal cookie creatures
  • Tomatoes are thrown at Shrek who is being transported in a prison-cart;
  • Witches circle and then chase Shrek
  • Fiona holds a knife against Shrek’s throat
  • Shrek and Fiona fight each other with medieval weapons and then in hand-to-hand combat
  • There are several battle scenes where ogres fight witches with medieval weapons.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • Several scenes depict witches who chase and menace the film’s characters
  • A magical flute player supernaturally forces other characters to dance
  • A giant flying dragon swoops down upon Shrek and his friends
  • Several witches and other characters disintegrate into fireballs
  • A cat rears up and hisses threateningly at a donkey
  • A goose rapidly expands and then explodes

In addition, the 3D component of this film may create some frightening moments for children in this age group, as everyday objects suddenly emerge on the screen and appear to jut-out at the audiences.  In this way, close-up images of even simple movements such as galloping horses may be disturbing for some young viewers.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are several scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Shrek’s discontent and anger with his family
  • Shrek finds his lost daughter’s doll, and this re-awakens his feelings of sadness at being separated from those he loves
  • Witches whip a donkey who is hitched to their cart
  • Shrek is restrained by witches, who are holding him down with poles attached to a leather neck brace around his neck
  • Several characters fall hundreds of metres over a cliff and into the sea below;
  • Shrek and the donkey smash through a vast glass ceiling and fall dozens of metres onto a stone floor;
  • A cat slashes the donkey with his claws
  • A dragon becomes ensnared in chains and is pulled suddenly to the ground
  • A living gingerbread man is eaten by pigs.
  • Shrek begins fading into a spreading golden haze, with the implication that death is coming upon him.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern in the film, although marketing of products associated with the film is likely to escalate in the weeks around the release

Sexual references

There is one veiled sexual reference in this movie, when the words, “sweet, luscious, tasty” are apparently used to describe a woman (although the audience soon finds that the phrase concerned a plate of waffles).

Nudity and sexual activity

There are some mild depictions of nudity and sexualised activities in this movie, including:

  • scenes of Shrek and Fiona in bed
  • several sequences show Shrek and Fiona kissing passionately

Use of substances

There is some substance use in this movie, including:

  • several scenes portraying adults drinking alcohol.

Coarse language

None of concern

In a nutshell

Shrek Forever After is a very cleverly crafted computer animation.  Many of the animated characters, such as Donkey and Puss in Boots are very well depicted and the 3D component is also extremely effective, without being over-done.  Nevertheless, adults may find the story line rather thin and unsatisfying.  In addition, parents may consider the film unnecessarily violent. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • contentment
  • loyalty
  • faithfulness
  • courage
  • unselfishness

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children the real-life consequences of violence, as opposed to the sanitised outcomes portrayed here.

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