Another summer, another “Shrek.”

This time Shrek (Mike Myers) is unhappy with the monotony of marriage and fatherhood and goes to Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who promises to magically give Shrek a day in his old ogre lifestyle if Shrek willingly gives up a day in his childhood. What Shrek doesn’t know is that Rumpel has been after the throne to Far Far Away ever since Fiona (Cameron Diaz) was locked in the tower and Shrek signing his life away is the perfect opportunity for the crazy little dwarf to take power. Not only that but since Shrek technically never existed, nobody remembers him, not even Donkey (Eddie Murphy) or Puss (Antonio Banderas), the kingdom has been ravaged by Rumpel, and Fiona has given up on finding a knight in shining armor and become one herself.

This all amounts to some harmless stuff for the kids basically, which is kind of sad since the first two were such clever fairytale satires. This fourth and last installment in the series plays out predictably, relies on the same stale themes (love conquers all, life was never meant to be a fairytale), goes for the easy jokes (poop, pee, belch, and Puss has let himself go for the fat gags), and also relies way too much on characters with funny voices or who sing and dance to pop culture songs. This is also the first in the series to be presented in 3-D but the unremarkable action doesn’t even come close to warranting a 3-D viewing.

While not as bad as “Shrek the Third”, “Shrek Forever After” nevertheless feels something like a direct-to-DVD knock-off that might excite kids looking for some mild entertainment, but I think even they’ll notice that Shrek has lost a step.