Shrek 5 Is Coming Together - Here's What It Can Learn From Puss In Boots

Thanks to "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" and its remarkable box office run, the "Shrek"-verse is suddenly looking more alive than it has in more than a decade. Rest assured, this hasn't gone unnoticed by DreamWorks Animation, which is already well into development on "Shrek 5" — a project we've been hearing rumblings about since at least 2017, back when the sequel's then-writer Michael McMullers ("The Boss Baby") referred to it as a "pretty big reinvention" of what's come before.

During an interview with Variety, Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri — who's also a creative partner at DreamWorks Animation — confirmed the intention is to bring back Mike Myers as the voice of the titular lovable, smelly ogre for the as-yet-untitled new "Shrek" movie, along with his co-stars Cameron Diaz and Eddie Murphy as Fiona and Donkey, respectively. Although Meledandri cautioned that "talks are starting now" with the original "Shrek" cast, he added that "every indication that we've gotten is there's tremendous enthusiasm on behalf of the actors to return" for the next chapter in the off-beat fairy tale saga. 

Of the trio, Murphy has recently enjoyed a career resurgence thanks to his roles in the acclaimed "Dolemite Is My Name" and the belated comedy sequel "Coming 2 America," with his turn in "Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley" potentially arriving later in 2023. Elsewhere, Diaz emerged from her self-imposed acting retirement in 2022 to board the action-comedy "Back in Action," while Myers resumed his habit of playing multiple characters in the critically-lambasted Netflix series "The Pentaverate" (which he also created) in addition to popping up in David O. Russell's costly box office flop "Amsterdam."

Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me...

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.