My Pitch for 'Shrek 5'
Please find enclosed my treatment for the as-of-yet-untitled Shrek 5. I've heard about your intentions to continue the franchise, and I thought I could alleviate some of the hassle that comes with creating the next installment in the greatest franchise of all time. Please note that this is a rough draft from a superfan, I waited in line for Shrek 4-D at Universal Studios Orlando for almost three hours so believe me when I say that I know my lore.
I hope you enjoy the following treatment and get back to me at email@example.com
It's been almost a decade since the events of Shrek Forever After...
Fergus, Farkle and Felicia are all beginning their inevitable descent into the terrors of ogre pubert, but for the moment we open on a quiet fishing trip between Shrek, Donkey and Puss. Shrek's ears have begun to dip in age and his spots may have darkened but he's still the same old ogre we've all come to love. Donkey's quiet. Too quiet.
"This is nice" Shrek exhales as he leans against the back of the boat, raising the other side out the water as Puss awkwardly pats some of the fish that rise to the surface. They're fathers now. They've matured. Shrek questions Puss' fatherhood and he recalls dozens of previous relationships and how he could have 'thousands of offspring' he didn't even know about - perhaps we even see fleeting glances of his escapades across the world, Zorro-style. Shrek shudders at the thought.
"Aaaaand done. TOLD you I could keep quiet for a whole minute!" Donkey states proudly. He may be a little grey around the mouth but he's still the same annoying Donkey.
After a brief back-and-forth (classic Shrek and the gang), Dragon soars in from above with Fiona and the kids. They're all going on holiday. Thus begins an opening montage (much like the one we got in Shrek 2) only this time there's an emphasis on the familial aspect. Cue some wacky vignettes, maybe the gang visit a racetrack and Donkeys wins the race - upsetting all the pundits who've rigged it so that the tortoise actually beats the hare - little classic plays on well-worn stories like the series is great at. It's all very wholesome, whilst at the same time after events/fun Shrek keeps running out of breath or becoming tired.
He's getting on in years.
The montage ends with Shrek at his most content, watching the kids from inside as he and Fiona sit together by a roaring fire. At some point during the opening montage it becomes abundantly clear that through the fun and mayhem the group are seen to be having, the general public don't take a liking to it. When the ogres return back to the swamp, looking forward to some more peace and quiet, an old friend shows up. Yes, it's Artie! The current ruling king of Far Far Away as decreed by Shrek in Shrek the Third. He's here with some concerning news. He asks the ogres if they've seen what people have been saying about them on a haunting new service called - social media.
"Pfft 'online'" Shrek dismisses. "They've been saying that whole thing was gonna take off years ago."
"It...did take off Shrek" Artie replies.
It's hardly surprising with their isolated existence over the past few years that the swamp isn't fully connected. A disgruntled Felicia has always asked for the connection but she's been silenced over the years.
Nevertheless Artie tells them that general consensus of the public online is negative towards Shrek and his family. That people have begun to turn their backs on the family that gave away the monarchy. Artie invites everyone to Far Far Away for a public speech to try and help put things right, which Shrek regrettably agrees to.
It goes catastrophically wrong. Shrek and Fiona's public appearance shows the true hateful nature of the public, who still hold onto the old ideology that ogres are beasts to be hunted down. That, and Shrek tosses around the term 'trolls' too flippantly and ends up losing the support of the actual troll community - "well we've lost the under-the-bridge vote". The gang are booed away and Artie says he's try and find a way to bring his subjects around. Meanwhile, two silhouetted figures smile and plot from the crowd...
That night in Fiona's old bedroom, Shrek confesses how terrified he was of the crowd. How it reminded him of his old days against angry mobs, and that he doesn't want that kind of hatred to be steered towards his children. Throughout the film he's constantly plagued by a recurring nightmare of the mobs surrounding the swamp and burning it to the ground whilst he struggles to wake Fiona and the kids. Shrek doesn't want to antagonise, and Fiona's the only one who can help calm him down from the panic attack.
Meanwhile Artie discusses with his royal assistants (including Pinocchio, the three pigs and the gingerbread man) how to put a stop to the unpleasantness. That's when two quiff-haired brothers barge in. They're the Brothers Grimm - Jacob and Will, famous publicists known for being the best spin doctors in all of Far Far Away (they recently finished their work on the esteemed 'ugly duckling' case). They're tenacious and confident that they can turn Shrek and co.'s reputation around, and eventually woo the group over until they're hired. And they have big plans for Shrek...
After a disgruntled first meeting, Shrek agrees to allow the Brothers Grimm to take charge of his publicity after seeing how they changed the public's opinion of Doris (one of Cinderella's ugly stepsisters) with a reality-show of her own in which she transforms herself into someone 'beautiful' which the whole land loves. They immediately get their conglomerate empire of young orphan writers to begin work on the ogre's seminal autobiography, a tell-all tale of secrets and scandals to entice the public of Far Far Away.
Elsewhere Donkey and Dragon's relationship is strained, as Donkey’s dedication to Shrek takes precedence over his time with Dragon. She harkens back to a time where she felt like she had a purpose (the dwonkeys have all fled home thanks to the fast aging process of dragons) and was feared/respected, something that Donkey doesn’t understand. Puss too, struggles to explain his identity outside of outdated babysitter/friend for Shrek.
Shrek’s ‘autobiography’ is released and it’s a huge success. But when reading it, Shrek discovers none of the pathos/tales he told the Brothers Grimm. Instead it’s a smear campaign – yet when he confronts them they exclaim “but…you’re an ogre. You’re supposed to be hated. It’s what you live for, right?” maybe it was at one point. But it’s not anymore. Shrek and Artie order the Brothers to try harder, and they harken back to how Shrek became a tyrannical underdog to the land all those years ago – by embarking on a fantastical quest – a nostalgic call back to Shrek.
The Grimm conglomerate, in an effort to overthrow the throne thanks to support from the public is deliberately tarnishing Shrek’s public image and making him seem dangerous to question Artie’s ruling as king. They arrange for Shrek to save a town under the ruling of an evil witch who can transform herself into a fierce dragon and free a princess from the top room of a mighty eyesore.
“You mean the highest room of the tallest tower?” Shrek asks.
“There’s a difference between call-backs and plagiarism” Will barks in return.
However, the Brothers tell Shrek he must do the quest alone. As Fiona, Donkey and Puss are all required elsewhere in their media defence of his character. Fiona refuses and tells Shrek to ignore them, but that night the castle grounds are broken into by an old-fashioned angry mob. Their pitchforks and torches scare Fergus, Felicia and Farkle and reignite Shrek’s reasoning. Fiona asks if they can just move elsewhere, but Shrek states that the swamp and his family are the only two things he cares for. The image of his perfect twilight years with Fiona among the toadstools is all he wants now, and he agrees to the quest.
Soon he’s fit snuggly back into some knight’s armour and rides off on horseback to the sound of, strangely, cheers from the public. Fiona is given a co-starring role on Doris’ reality show (introduced during an episode where the girls are off to see King Midas) and she’s shocked at how different the ugly stepsister is. Donkey, whilst on a walk after an argument with Dragon, is kidnapped by goons (including Captain Hook, Thelonious and the rest of ‘The Poison Apple’ gang) angry over their loss at the track back during the ‘Tortoise and Hare’ race. They’ve spent years training that darn tortoise and thanks to Donkey’s outrages burst of energy during the montage from earlier they’re all out of pocket and want revenge. Puss receives a letter from Humpty-Dumpty, telling him that someone is looking for him. The letter is ominous enough to sound like a threat, and Puss goes on full alert to investigate.
Shrek’s journey to the town in danger is quiet and lonely – his only company his horse steed. One that’s not nearly as noble or talkative. Shrek frequently struggles getting on and off the horse, and when they find the town, with its members terrified to set foot out of their homes, Shrek soon becomes fearful of the daunting task at hand. He finds a stable for the evening before making his way to the castle where the supposed evil witch rules, but once she spots his trespassing she transforms into a mighty dragon, which sets the castle and the surrounding area alight. Shrek hears the calls from help from the damsel in distress and is urged to fight on, despite growing weary. The dragon slams him against walls and flings him down stairwells as thunder and lightning storm outside.
Donkey is held prisoner by the Poison Apple crew. Donkey questions the fact that they’re still being evil despite pledging to a life of honesty in Shrek the Third, but they reply with the fact that they’re just angry at him and ‘there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of gambling’. Puss gets in contact with Humpty to get some information on the person looking for him, but he has little to offer, except for the fact that they’re hooded and softly-spoken. Puss revitalises his old ‘Puss in Boots’ persona and takes to the streets to learn more as a Batman-esque vigilante. Fiona, bemused and confused by Doris’ change in appearance/character thanks to the popularity of her show – she’s not herself anymore and Fiona becomes dubious of the Brothers’ intentions and vows not to be sucked in by the show’s control over her.
Amidst the epic showdown between Shrek and the witch-Dragon, Shrek makes his way up to the maiden’s room, only to realise it’s a young girl cowering in fear from him. The dragon’s screeches turn into a mother’s wail. She begs Shrek not to hurt her.
And suddenly he understands.
The ‘witch’ is an old fairy that helped the poor and lived a small life raising her new-born daughter. A few years ago the Brothers Grimm spearheaded an antagonistic mentality towards her. They faked fires and attacks on the local town and blamed it on her, and the townspeople gathered against her and made her flee to the abandoned castle grounds where she now lives with her daughter in isolation for safety.
Whilst investigating, Puss tracks down a hooded stranger – the one surely looking for him and chases after them. They get away, but nearby Puss hears the struggles of a familiar Donkey at the Poison Apple. He spies on the villains, using Donkey as the club’s entertainment (he does have a beautiful singing voice). But then, a gasp from behind – it’s the hooded mysterious figure! They mutter “you’re…a member of The Poison Apple? No…” before pulling their sword from an unseen sheath. Puss springs into action, being the blistering swordsman we all known and love. The two duel on the roof of The Poison Apple precariously, both displaying skill. But Puss has the upper hand, he sideswipes the figure and flicks their sword to the ground below.
“On your knees el vilano!” he orders.
The figure does as they’re told, their tail protruding from the cloak offering the first glimpse of who they really are.
“Who are you?” Puss calls out.
“Nobody” the figure replies.
Puss pulls off the hood revealing…a young cat! Teenage. With strikingly similar fur pattern…
“Tell me why you’re looking for me, or else…” Puss raises his sword to the cat’s neck.
“Or else…what?” the cat looks up with those familiar wide eyes that melt the hearts of everyone they come into contact with.
“Those eyes…where did you learn to do that?”
“I’ve been told I inherited it. From my father.”
What? We pull back to an extension of the flashbacks of Puss’ life before Shrek, his past relationships which eventually lead to…a son! A son who’s been trying to track down his father, and is now under the wrong impression that he’s a villain who regulars at The Poison Apple. Puss is overjoyed and embraces his son immediately, telling him why he’s really there and saying how proud he is of his son’s sword fighting capability.
“But my son…what should I call you?” he asks.
“They call me…” his son tears away the hooded cape, revealing an ill-fitting pair of beige trousers locked to him from the waist down. “CAT….in pants.”
“Okay. Well we can work on the name thing later…”
Suddenly the roof shifts. All their fighting from earlier has dislodged the structure of The Poison Apple, and the two fall down into the club itself – much to the cheering approval of Donkey. Cat in Pants steals Captain Hook’s sword and the father and son duo brawl all the way across the club with Puss constantly praising his son’s valiant efforts. They’re doing well until from within the crowd comes a difficult but familiar opponent, Monsieur Robin Hood! Revealing himself to be the leader of the gambling ring and new owner of The Poison Apple, Hood and his Merry Men bolster the cat duo during a new musical number detailing his downtrodden backstory after losing respect by being knocked unconscious by a woman. They throw the cats out, keeping Donkey locked inside as a prisoner.
Meanwhile Fiona slogs her way through more fake reality tv. When she’s handed her scripts for the next week, they feature her leaving Shrek and gossiping about him along with the other actors. Fiona confronts Doris, who’s grown disheartened with the show and misses being the ugly step-sister. A young rogue journalist named Goldilocks reveals the sinister antics of the Brothers Grimm. That their big break on the ugly duckling story was really just a misinformation campaign that lead to the execution of a goose who had lost its way. That they plan on portraying Shrek as a murderer the moment he returns from his quest after vanquishing the ‘evil’ witch.
Fiona and Doris warn Artie of the Brothers’ sinister plans but it’s too late. Using the latest magic enthused into their stories and television-productions, Artie has become hypnotised by their ‘real’ stories and refuses to hear from them.
Shrek befriends the witch and her daughter, and discusses the peaks/valleys of parenthood with her before agreeing to head off. He tells them that if they ever need a place without worry, that his swamp will always welcome them.
Puss and his son bond briefly on their way back from The Poison Apple before trying to figure out how to save Donkey – but it’s obvious. We then cut to Dragon smashing through the entire place, caked in fire and roaring fear into the hearts of the villains – this is the most alive she’s felt in years. They free Donkey and corner Monsieur Hood into revealing that the Brothers’ Grimm are responsible for their kidnapping of Donkey. They knew the two of them together would mess with their overall plan.
Shrek, Donkey, Puss, Cat and Dragon all converge towards the castle to confront the Brothers’ Grimm for good. They find Artie locked up in his own cell, and the Brothers controlling Far Far Away from his throne thanks to their insidious magic. Shrek asks them why they’re doing this to him, and they share their mutual disgust over ogres, calling them monsters that should be banished from civilisation completely – extinct. But before our heroes can charge towards them, they switch on the satellite that diverges their insidious magic across Far Far Away – soon every single person grabs torches/pitchforks and storms towards the castle, desperate to hunt down the ogre.
Despite a valiant effort, the gang are chased through streets and alleys but hundreds if not thousands. Fiona is thrown down into the dungeons with her children – who have been locked away since Artie lost control of the kingdom. They hear the footsteps of the angry mob making their way towards them, fire at the ready. The first mob member crashes through the door.
“Kill. Kill. Kill” chants Queen Lillian.
“Mum?!” Fiona shrieks.
But it’s just an act. Lillian guides them through secret passageways and into a carriage to safety. Fiona stands to wait for Shrek but there’s not time, they need to get away as soon as possible.
The others are pushed out from the land too, and retreat back to the swamp. Shrek and his family reunite and try to regroup. Fiona and the kids start packing their things ready to leave the swamp and go on the run so they can remain safe. But Shrek and Donkey look out at the swamp, at their home. Shrek says he’s not leaving. And that if it comes to a fight then that’s what they need to do in order to keep their home safe.
Of course their odds don't look great, and once the population of Far Far Away begin to make their way towards the swamp led by the Brothers Grimm it becomes very obvious that our heroes are sorely outnumbered. But Donkey has an idea. As the army approaches Donkey and Dragon's dwonkey offsprings are called home - all fully grown and...slightly terrifying. Shrek and Fiona greet them with smiles when they actually find them disturbing in appearance - because...they are. But they're big and vicious, much like Dragon herself. Shrek calls in the Witch from earlier as another dragon for the team to give them a fighting chance, whilst Pinocchio, Gingerbread Man, the Three Pigs, Blind Mice, Wolf, Doris and the entire ensemble make their way to the swamp on Shrek's side. Their commitment to Shrek can beat the Brothers' stupid magic (that, and Gingerbread Man's been banned from watching television due to his lack of exercise). It looks like it's going to be war.
Puss and Cat do the world's fastest bonding session, meaningfully headbutting each other and purring as cats do for some reason. Shrek and Fiona hide Fergus, Farkle and Felicia in a secret bunker under the home, ignoring their pleas to join the fight. They kiss each other.
"Ready to save us again?" Fiona asks.
But Shrek just smiles back. He doesn't know if he can this time.
The army arrives and the battle begins. The legion of Swamp Dragons burns a flaming barrier around the swamp, preventing many of the mob from breaking through. A fraction breaks through the barrier and starts filtering into the swamp. Pinocchio lies about how brave he is and snaps his elongated nose off, using it as a sword. Gingerbread Man blinds enemies with his gumdrops, manically screaming. The Blind Mice keep accidentally tripping people over. Wolf lures enemies in with his grandmother disguise before growling and scaring them off. Doris has about fifty locked in a headlock whilst the Three Pigs hurl straw and sticks at people to no avail...until they finally start hurling bricks. Puss and Cat are swashbuckling their way through the crowd as Fiona wrestles oncomers down into the mud. Shrek pulls back giant toadstools and launches enemies back through the forest before taking others head-on.
Donkey stays in the house, kicking anyone who makes it to the doorway and knocking them out, keeping the children safe. The Brothers' Grimm get frustrated that their crowds are dwindling and sneak through the crowds themselves, bypassing the heroes towards the house.
"Shrek! Fiona!" Donkey screams.
The ogres sprint back home. Donkey's curled up on the ground, his leg broken. The Brothers' Grimm holding swords to Fergus, Farkle and Felicia. Why are they doing this? The kids manage to knock the Brothers back and Shrek launches himself at them, pinning them both to the wall and baring his ogre teeth. But then...a small old flyer falls from Will's jacket. It's an old 'Wanted' sign. For Shrek. The same type that was featured in the first film.
"Pfft that reward isn't even available anymore" Donkey butts in.
"Tell that to our father!" the Brothers growl.
We're thrown into a whirlwind of a flashback. Will and Jacob's troublesome childhood under an alcoholic and suggestively-abusive father. One tainted with PTSD of a time where he ventured out to hunt the ogre that troubled their town - a young Shrek. One that enjoyed his antagonistic ways and lived for conflict. It drove their father mad and drove their mother away, destroying their friendship.
"That's all ogres are" Jacob grimaces, "monsters."
Shrek loosens his grip. He's so tired. Fiona holds back the children.
"Shrek..." she calls out. He looks back at her, his eyes weary and filled with sadness.
Will plunges his sword into Shrek's side. Donkey, Fiona and the kids gasp in pain. Shrek holds his hand up, telling them to stay back. Pained, he rests his palms on the Brothers' shoulders. He tells them it's okay, he's sorry and that people change.
"Do what you want to me. Just...please leave my family and friends out of this."
Jacob looks at his brother's anger. He knows it's misplaced. But Will is stubborn, this is what ruined them.
"No. Father went out for blood in the first place. He was the one to blame."
Will is hesitant but he lets go, and Shrek falls to the floor only to be immediately surrounded by his family. The Brothers' realise their ideas are based on the hatred of their father, and switch off their machine which wakes up all of Far Far Away (though doesn't explain to them why they're in a swamp). An awoken Artie bursts in and sentences the Brothers to life imprisonment, but Shrek tells him no.
"Maybe if you don't want to be considered evil you should...quit the whole 'media' thing?" he suggests.
The Brothers take his advice as the swamp empties. Donkey is nursed back to health by his family, as is Shrek. He tells his kids that family is the most important thing, but that if they want to explore the world they can - he's the one with the attachment to the swamp.
A few months later, Fergus, Farkle and Felicia are all packed ready to explore the world. Donkey and Puss put on a show to send them off, featuring none other than Smash Mouth (we love Smash Mouth Dreamworks - please). And as the kids trail off on their own adventure, Shrek and Fiona settle for a quiet night in as they welcome old age, in a romantic candle-lit dinner much like the one Shrek prepares for himself in the first film (with even the same music).
Obviously it's not perfect. It's just a first idea thing. Personally I'd want Fiona and Donkey's storylines to be fleshed out more, as well as the personalities of Fergus, Farkle and Felicia. But I think it's a good starting point for Shrek 5 if you need it.
Again Dreamworks, I am available for hire as a screenwriter/consultant for the Shrek series. You won't even have to supply me lunch, as I can bring in my own sandwiches every single day.
I look forward to hearing from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
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