This movie makes me less happy the more I think about it, so I’ll keep this brief.
Shrek the Third takes a franchise that has EARNED my money by being funny and interesting, and rolls it in the mud. And not the good, “Shrek-likes-mud” kind of mud, either. This is the evil kind that you get when you add water to Hollywood’s typical money-grubbing dirt, where all successful franchises seem to end up these days. “We made money! Awesome! Let’s throw some shit in a box and keep the packaging the same! Money money money, baby!”
So, yeah, this time around, Shrek is STILL uncomfortable being looked up to by anyone, but get this, now he’s supposed to be the KING. Shenanigans! Oh no, he’s afraid of fatherhood! Guffaw! He runs off to find the ONE other possible successor to the throne! Nevermind the dozens of princesses that litter his kingdom of Ever After, of course, and their counterpart princesses/heroes that… well… should probably be hanging around somewhere, too. Anyway, meanwhile, the Prince Valiant-type from the last movie is still hanging around. But he’s a laughingstock, mostly because he is a buffoon. He blames his lot in life on Shrek (and he is mostly right to do so), and convinces all of the evil sorts of fairy tale characters to mount a coup so he can rule Ever After like he ought to. Yeah, I think the entirety of the (even worse than Shrek 3) “Happily Ne’er After” movie is in here, which is possibly a testament to the unoriginality of the plot, here.
Arthur, the boy who Shrek is looking for, is a gay wimp who never crosses paths with a sword in a stone. In fact, there are absolutely no The Sword in the Stone jokes, except that Merlin is around and so loony that his robe is noticeably too short. Chuckle. Yeah, the only The Sword in the Stone joke in Shrek 3 was half-ripped from a gag IN The Sword in the Stone.
The first two movies were terrifically original, I felt. They took something familiar and threw some neat twists on there (the donkey-dragons, obviously, signalling the beginning of the end of the series’ enjoyable streak of creativity). A lot of neat twists, actually. And this movie? This movie starts off good, focusing on how the fairy tale “prince charming” character got screwed and is now a bad guy. Except, oh, that happened in the second movie? And there’s no payoff. In the end, his ragtag band of “villains” are all simply being motivated by bad childhoods or bad luck, and would rather be skipping through meadows singing happy songs and rearing a dozen obscenely cute babies each. Everyone learns a valuable lesson, except for Prince Charming. He gets laughed at some more.
Some other things worth mentioning shall be mentioned shortly, in the order in which they come to mind:
- Shrek does not have one good joke in the entire movie. His character is entirely unamusing.
- There are still funny moments to be found within this turd, but they all involve the secondary characters. And tertiary characters. Merlin is quite good, and of COURSE the gingerbread man and Pinocchio bits are gold. They are so obviously the best parts of the movie that it hurts.
- Puss In Boots and Donkey are old and busted. Not as bad off as Shrek in this movie, but their moments of new hotness are too rare for the screentime they get. Speaking of which, why are the three pigs and the wolf in Granny’s nightie even around? The filmmakers would be horrible gardeners if they can’t prune back anything at ALL from the last movie. And lemme tell ya, that shit ain’t still growing. That’s all I’m saying.
- The knockoffs of the classic Disney princesses horrify me. They are bitches. They need slapping. The gag was funny the first time around, but it got turned into a feature-length joke for Shrek the Third… with unpalatable results.
- This is decent family fare. I often completely discount that feature of movies, but I suppose I might as well point out ONE feature of Shrek the Third that might redeem it. There are some poop jokes, and swords are waved around a little bit, but there are a lot of babies and silly things happening. Fun for everybody! I’m afraid that parents will not get a lot of PERSONAL satisfaction out of watching this movie, beyond the fact that your children may like it more than the first two Shrek movies.
Easily the weakest Shrek flick as far as I am concerned, but it honestly has SOME good parts that make it seem like your friends from the first two movies never left. And, on a note that concerns me greatly, the 4th Shrek is already in the (Dream)works! Oh, HAPPY day.