Shrek the Third
Rated PG; Directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui; Starring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Justin Timberlake, Rupert Everett
Shrek the Third opened to boffo box office, as it should – audiences have had plenty of fun with the first two films. The third entry in the Shrek series carries on with the characters that we have come to love: Shrek, the sweet ogre; Fiona, his understanding princess wife; Donkey, an enthusiastic buddy; and Puss, a cat with plenty of charm. Unfortunately, these characters need a better story than what is dished up this time.
Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are back in Far Far Away Land to attend to Fiona’s ailing father, the king. Shrek, who finds court life tedious and uncomfortable, is ready to return to the swamp, but when the king dies it seems that Shrek and Fiona are stuck in Far Far Away as the new king and queen. Shrek’s only hope of returning to the simpler life is if he can find and bring back the only other heir to the throne, Arthur (Justin Timberlake), a gawky young lad with his own issues. Two other plot complications occur, Fiona finds herself in the family way with Shrek not exactly thrilled at impending fatherhood, and Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who has found himself stuck in dreadful dinner theater productions, is out for revenge and the throne.
Shrek the Third shows that sequels have problems. The third film stumbles with few new clever ideas. Trying to mine the Arthurian legend within a high school setting the laughs are few and far between. There are some fun scenes, usually involving the narcissistic Charming. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss (Antonio Banderas) are also good for some laughs, especially when a magical spell has them both swapping bodies with each other. It’s Shrek and Fiona that lose their luster in this production. The plot doesn’t give them enough to play against. The fun and laughs rely on the supporting characters. Shrek obviously gets more to do, but Fiona seems to blandly disappear. Even scenes of Fiona and other fairy tale princesses (Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty) battling against Prince Charming are weak and keep Fiona in the background.
The animation is at a high level, and the music is fun, but for all the times the script hits the target there are just as many misses. Still, it’s hard not to give plenty of slack to the filmmakers. After all, it is Shrek. It takes a lot to make him unlovable.