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Shrek Forever After Review: Ogre and ogre, and ogre and ogre — again

The final chapter in a constantly charming franchise, “Shrek Forever After,” proves what has been increasingly clear in the decade since the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) leapt so famously onscreen from William Steig’s 1990 children’s book:

The animated journey of Shrek, his beloved, Fiona, and Far Far Away buddies Donkey and Puss in Boots is pitched to adults even more than young’uns.

It’s not that kids are an afterthought. Far, far from it. Wee ones are given plenty to giggle about: burping ogre babies, a flatulent father, impossibly winning talking animals, nasty villains with silly grudges and so on.

But the writing has, from the first sequel, been rife with knowing wisecracks for parents and chaperones.

With Far Far Away resembling Hollywood, the double entendres — visual as well as verbal — have been irresistible fodder for the filmmakers. To wit, “Shrek” influenced many pretenders that winked and nudged to lesser effect.

For “Shrek,” catering to the grown- ups makes a sort of sense. After all, many adult ticket buyers were beneficiaries and victims of Grimm fairytales and Cinderella promises. Newer audience members have, we hope, been fed the more thoughtful literary fare.

This fourth film takes the grown- up tilt further, stirring an “It’s a Wonderful Life” dilemma into an often- pleasing, if familiar, brew of pop-cultural nods and fairytale teases. Only instead of contemplating ending it all as George Bailey did, Shrek is merely tricked by Rumpelstiltskin into having never been born.

As the film opens,