Shrek the Third (2007)
Shrek the Third (2007)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.

Release Date: May 18th, 2007 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Chris Miller, Raman Hui Actors: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, John Krasinski, Ian McShane

 


 

B

ringing back the beloved, convivial green ogre, “Shrek The Third” neatly concludes the supremely entertaining trilogy of fairy tale send-ups. Introducing a slew of new twists on classic storybook characters, and a multitude of priceless pop culture references, this film proves that the third time’s a charm. Unbelievably realistic animation, running gags, and spoofs of popular movies – along with a brilliantly upbeat soundtrack – ensure that this crowd-pleaser will delight the whole family. And the Gingerbread Man just never gets old.

Shrek (Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are planning a homecoming to the comforts of their swamp when, all of a sudden, the frog King (John Cleese) croaks. Forced to either assume the throne or track down the last remaining heir – a boy named Arthur (Justin Timberlake) – Shrek opts to summon his pals Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to embark on a mission to locate the young royalty hopeful. Meanwhile, the unscrupulous Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) amasses a group of dastardly storybook villains to take over the land of Far Far Away. Fiona must counter the scheme by gathering her princess friends, including Snow White (Amy Poehler), Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), and Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri) to save their overthrown kingdom. Will Shrek bring back the next heir? Will Fiona rescue her people? Will there be a “Shrek 4”?

For the third installment of the franchise, the distinctive characters really drive the plot. Almost a direct sequel to the previous entry, the story picks up shortly after, employs most of the same personae, and revolves around a comparable narrative and the same villain. Despite the story’s familiarity, the grand assortment of characters is still entertaining to watch. Puss in Boots returns and, though he mainly reuses his best gimmicks (including the wide-eyed, begging glare), Antonio Banderas’ voice work and the ingenious character design guarantee that he steals every scene he’s in. Donkey is his usual annoying self, sticking to his intrusive, loud-mouthed routine, though here he’s been toned down a bit so as not to become too overbearing. And, of course, the Gingerbread Man is back – a risible role quite deserving of his own spin-off.

Movie references and pop culture are a huge part of the “Shrek” property. This latest piece features spoofs of “Rosemary’s Baby,” an unbelievably witty nightmare sequence, and an homage to buster Keaton’s collapsing wall stunt, in which he remains standing through an open window (first seen in “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”). Dozens of one-liner jokes and regular conventions emphasize the zeitgeist, from famous clichés to current events. At times it seems as if quirky quips compose the entirety of the film – and that if all the non-related jests were removed, a movie might not exist beneath it. Certainly more interesting here and now, where a lot of the references are influential and relevant, the Shrek films will likely retain their basic, wholesome family fun, even if their magic fades with the popularity of the subjects they spoof.

But technically and visually, the Shrek features continue to advance. Amazing, eye-popping graphics grace the screen, with ultra-realistic textures, shading, and environments, as well as fluid humanlike movements and practically flawless animation. Hilarious character designs come to vivid life with the stunning combination of aesthetic mediums and devices. Once again, an upbeat and popular soundtrack garnishes the production as hilariously inserted, full-scale song-and-dance sequences enhance nearly every moment. A fourth picture is already in the works, and though the world doesn’t need it, if DreamWorks Animation keeps up the same fast-paced blend of humor, adventure, and role-model-morals, it can’t do moviegoers any harm. “Shrek the Third” may be as preachy as ever, but it perfectly matches its predecessors with high standards of animation and entertainment value.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10