SHREK THE THIRD
** (out of 5)
May 18, 2007
Mike Myers as SHREK
Eddie Murphy as DONKEY
Cameron Diaz as PRINCESS FIONA
Antonio Banderas as PUSS IN BOOTS
Julie Andrews as QUEEN LILLIAN
John Cleese as KING HAROLD
Rupert Everett as PRINCE CHARMING
Eric Idle as MERLIN
Justin Timberlake as ARTIE
Directed by: Chris Miller
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Here is the problem with sequels… Often a movie is made that is so original, so clever and so innovative that it takes Hollywood by storm. Then, because the first film made so much money, the studio demands a sequel. However, because the first film was pretty much a one-shot idea, the sequel never quite works. Often it has too many characters, a forced storyline and a lot of revisiting stale jokes, gags and situations.
For some reason, “Shrek 2” managed to avoid all these pitfalls and actually turn out to be better than the first film. However, all the ground the series gained with the second film, it loses – and then some – with the latest installment “Shrek the Third.”
It’s not that “Shrek the Third” is a terrible movie. Compared to much of what’s out for families nowadays, it’s actually quite decent. However, it had so much to live up to with the first two movies that it pales in comparison.
With the sudden resurgence in popularity of fantasy movies, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen more than our fair share of films turning the fairy tale genre on its ear. “Shrek” and “Shrek 2” really set the stage for the irreverent comedy riddled with modern pop culture references.
However, after movies like “Ella Enchanted,” “Hoodwinked” and “Happily N’ever After,” the joke well has run dry. This new Shrek film is overburdened with a “been there, done that” feeling.
The film follows Shrek and Fiona as they live in the enchanted land of Far, Far Away. While life is good, life is also boring. That’s the breaks for royalty, apparently. While Shrek is trying to shirk his royal duties, hoping to find someone to take over his job as would-be king, Fiona struggles with how to tell him she’s pregnant.
Fiona’s father is sick, and he sends Shrek on a mission to find the other heir to the throne, played by an overly whiny Justin Timberlake. Donkey and Puss join Shrek, leaving Fiona to be captured by Prince Charming who is still sore about losing out to Shrek in the previous film. When Shrek returns to the kingdom, he must fight for his throne and his family.
The biggest thing that jumped out at me with this movie was how remarkably similar its plot was to “Happily N’ever After.” In each film, a villain joins forces with the other fairy tale villains to change the outcome of happily ever after. In retrospect, it also has an alarming similarity to the “Cinderella III” sequel that Disney released on DVD earlier this year.
And that’s exactly what “Shrek the Third” reminded me of… a Disney direct-to-DVD sequel. It’s not that movies like “Lady and the Tramp II,” “The Little Mermaid II” and “Mulan II” are terrible movies. They work for their demographic. However, if they had been given theatrical releases, they would have been embarrassing retreads of the original films.
Yes, “Shrek the Third” has plenty of humor – both clean and scatological. And it’s really the only thing out there right now appropriate for the whole family. I’m sure it’s going to make as much green as we see on the ogre himself. But popularity in a vacuum does not a good movie make.
So take the kids to see “Shrek the Third.” Enjoy the day with the family. Just don’t expect anything remotely close to the first two films.