In light of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” and its unexpected success, the next “Shrek” movie would do well to borrow a page from the former’s playbook. The “Puss in Boots” sequel was a dramatic departure from its predecessor — itself a 2011 spinoff of the earlier “Shrek” films that’s only really notable for giving us the “Ooh Cat” meme — in just about every respect, from its “Spider-Verse”-styled hybrid animation to the surprisingly heavy story about Puss having to reckon with his mortality. The results were a delightful and somewhat shockingly soulful take on the “Shrek”-verse and its sendup of the fairy tale tropes popularized by Disney and its animated features in the 20th century, proving the franchise might just have some gas left in the tank after all.
Assuming the original actors sign on like Chris Meledandri is predicting, “Shrek 5” would do well to similarly acknowledge that its heroes are much older now and both they and the fantasy world they inhabit are in a very different place than the first time we met them over 20 years ago. It’s the same approach the “Toy Story” movies have long embraced, and “The Last Wish” is proof positive it could work just as effectively for “Shrek 5,” allowing it to go beyond nostalgia and provide something more meaningful in terms of storytelling. Along those same lines, there’s no reason the sequel ought to limit itself to DreamWorks’ in-house animation style, and not just from a creative perspective, either. Indeed, there are big bucks to be made from experimenting with different visual techniques, as DreamWorks demonstrated last year with both “The Last Wish” and “The Bad Guys.”
“Shrek 5” has yet to receive an official theatrical release date.