ByDena Pech, writer at Creators.co
Award winning screenwriter. Storyteller. "What a man can't remember doesn't exist for him."
Dena Pech

It’s been seven years since we last saw in Shrek Forever After, and much longer since we've seen Mike Myers' lovable ogre in his prime. Is there anything left about Shrek that can be remotely interesting? We're about to find out.

The Boss Baby writer Michael McCullers says his script for Shrek 5 is a "big reinvention" of the series, which is probably necessary. In Shrek's absence, the world of animated films has changed significantly — and if the franchise keeps doing the same thing, it'll feel like rehashed material.

"Reinvention" sounds like a soft reboot, and that's okay. Times have changed, and we as an audience now demand more from our movies, no matter the genre. Here's how Shrek can make sense as a modern franchise:

Add Social Relevance

Recent animated movies such as and focused on current issues in the real world. Zootopia talks about society's fears; Inside Out was more personal, examining human emotions and psychology — which was pretty brave for a kids' movie, and Pixar managed to make it all fun in the process

Of course, Shrek's story has always had emotional elements. In the first movie, we watched him grow from a lonely, selfish person to a selfless hero able to love. His world is turned upside down, and it's amazing to see a character like Shrek handle the turmoil. Shrek 5 needs the classic ogre with a heart of gold, but also to include a relevant message for today's culture.

Basically, all I’m asking here is for Dreamworks to add a deeper meaning to the world of Shrek.

Need more of this [Credit: Dreamworks]
Need more of this [Credit: Dreamworks]

Shrek and Shrek 2 had some great elements, focusing on the concepts of physical appearance and self-acceptance. Maybe Shrek 5 could reintroduce those elements in a stronger way.

Fewer Pop-Culture References

[Credit: Dreamworks]
[Credit: Dreamworks]

Shrek 5 shouldn't rely on topical references to justify its comedy. The first movie feels timeless for a reason, but as the Shrek movies got more winking, the jokes got old.

Pop-culture references worked in The Lego Batman Movie because they paid tribute to what inspired the movie in the first place, and showed how a selfish hero avoids emotion — that's funny and it shows character. With that in mind, Shrek 5 should have a strong story full of heart without taking us aside for quick Family Guy-style jokes.

Cut The Cast Down — Less Is More

[Credit: Dreamworks]
[Credit: Dreamworks]

Having fewer characters is a great thing; it gives us time to get to know the important ones and relate to them. When there's too many — like in — everyone gets less to do. When characters are added just for the sake of spectacle, it creates a mess. Shrek 5's reinvention should focus on the core characters, and maybe a couple of new ones.

Figure Out The Story's Potential

Shrek Forever After had a great premise, similar to . But even with a classic film as its blueprint, the fourth Shrek film failed to live up to its potential. The film gave Shrek a reason to go back to his family, but it felt rehashed; we saw him fight for what he had already fought for when we wanted him to fight for something new.

[Credit: Dreamworks]
[Credit: Dreamworks]

Shrek 5 can learn from great soft reboots like and , sequels that fixed most of the franchise's problems while moving the story forward, not going back to square one. They introduced new ideas while using the franchise's aesthetics and beloved characters.

If Shrek 5 is fun with some great laughs and a socially relevant story, then I'm all for it — such a focused approach would revive a franchise that deserves to keep going. Oh, and it would get Smash Mouth out of my head.

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