It's me! Billy Appleton! And I'm here to help you decide if this year's batch of summer movies is worth your hard earned cash. Or worth a swift kick in the ass. We're fast approaching weekend number three, and this Friday's big release is the somewhat anticipated sequel Shrek Forever After. Which was at one point titled Shrek Goes Forth, and now, suddenly, wants to be called Shrek The Final Chapter. Whatever they name it, there's no escaping the fact that this franchise has overstayed its welcome. Shrek the Third was a miserable, humorless stretch of celluloid that was as pointless as it was redundant. Shrek Forever After one ups it by regurgitating the first film that we all fell in love with nearly ten years ago, and then plops its inner workings into a plot ripped off from It's a Wonderful Life. If we're to believe our script writing professor, there really aren't any new stories to tell. So why not eviscerate the ones we truly adore and exploit their charm for more cash at the box office?!?

After sifting through the debris of Shrek the Third, I never wanted to see, feel, touch, or smell this particular film series ever again. My parents, on the other hand? They still (think they) love Shrek, and I can't convince them otherwise. Even though I'm paying for our trip to the local Cineplex this Saturday, I can't quite persuade them into seeing MacGruber instead. I have it on pretty good authority that this Saturday Night Live spin-off doesn't suck at all. Its no classic, but compared to some of the other stuff out there this May, its one of the few worthwhile endeavors awaiting your (not so) disposable income. Sadly, that's not my parents' concern. I have to convince them Shrek The Final Chapter belongs in the dumpster. If they won't take my word for it, maybe they'll listen to some of the other critics out there. So, as is the norm with this particular column of hate and loathing, I've turned to my Internet brethren to get their take on DreamWorks Animations' latest profiteering efforts. Here's what they had to say, and its not pretty (you can read their entire reviews by clicking on the links provided}:

Variety's John Anderson:

"Word of mouth likely won't make for a fairy-tale ending. When fantasy figures start having midlife crises and their animated franchises start having late-life crises, it's time to lower the wobbly green tent pole. Is there such a thing as male ogre menopause? it's clear that time and technology have passed (Shrek) by."

HitFix's Drew McWeeny:

"The way the first 20 minutes of the film are cut, it makes domestic life seem like a horrifying nightmare. It's a very cynical start to the film. This sort of reductive nightmare version bothers me in a kid's film because it doesn't speak to the experience of the intended audience. It starts things off on such an unpleasant note that I don't think the film is able to recover. This new film is basically one long, big downer. A surprisingly dark and ugly ride. Mike Myers sounds as bored in his performance as I was watching. The film's biggest sin is simply that the franchise has run out of gas."

Slant Magazine's Nick Schager:

"This fourth saga proves a needless endeavor. Director Mike Mitchell resort(s) to a tired gimmick (aside from the perfunctory 3D) in order to breath life into a depleted franchise: an alternate reality story! What follows is little more than a pointless variation on the first (film). The sweetly juvenile humor feels more tepid and staid than ever. (It) Offers little insight into, or development of, its main characters or their relationships. Innocuous and unnecessary, a supposed final chapter to a series that should have ended two installments ago."

The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck:

"It may finally be time to let Shrek and Fiona live happily ever after. Shrek Forever After has lost much of the simple charm, humor and heart that marked its predecessors. Much of the story is set in a literally bleaker landscape. It reveals a definite been-there, done-that feeling."

Cinematical's Scott Weinberg:

"I should stop expecting these sequels to recapture the magic of the original. The filmmakers certainly don't seem to think it's a priority. Instead of one final adventure with all these colorful characters, we're offered an "alternate reality". Shrek The Final Chapter plays (way) more to the little kids than to anyone else. Much of the film feels like a Shrek checklist. They should have used a concept that wasn't already threadbare in 1965. The magic of the first flick is all but lost."

Emanuel Levy:

"Though boasting 3D technology, the new installment shows signs of fatigue, if not total exhaustion. Do children, the primary target audience for this animated series, want to follow a tale about tedious, adventureless lives at an age when the whole world is ahead of them? Shrek The Final Chapter is the weakest in terms of entertainment values, wit, fun, playfulness. It smacks too much of a coldly calculated corporate product. A film that has outlived its freshness and usefulness, serving as a pale echo to the attributes that had marked the first lovely episodes. This (one) does not have a good villain."

Huffington Post's Marshall Fine:

"All the warning signs are there: the fact that it's the fourth film, the fact that it's in 3D, the fact that virtually all of the original creative talent (aside from the actors) have moved on. Not as witty as the first two films in the series. The script could use more jokes."

CumingSoon.net's Scott Chitwood:

"It does have some big problems. As the movie enters that final act, it just kind of fizzles. There's nothing impressive about it. It is disappointing. This movie also does not introduce any memorable new characters. It seemed like a wasted opportunity. It's not the grand finish to the series that you would hope for."

There you have it, folks. Shrek Forever After most definitely sucks. Big time. Go see MacGruber instead. It'll be more fun. (I guess, I don't know. I'm just taking the critic at his word. Isn't that what we're supposed to do?)

Related: Shrek 5 Is Still Happening, Will It Be a Complete Reboot?

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B. Alan Orange