New York Magazine

 
 

Shrek the Third
   
  Release Date: 05/18/07

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett

Director: Chris Miller

Rating: (PG)
 
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Genre
  Animation, Comedy, Family
   
  Running Time
  93 min
   
  Distributor
  Dreamworks
   
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NEW YORK REVIEW
When I was a kid in the sixties, my parents would dump me and my little brother at the movies, where we'd see pitiful imports like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians or slapstick comedies with Dean Jones and some fucked-up dog or ghost or Volkswagen. Today, at least in my overprotective circles, parents go along with their kids, which means the makers must appeal to multiple age groups. What studio executives call "hand-hold films" offer action, tomfoolery, and life lessons ("Believe in yourself," "Dare to dream," etc.) for kids, pop-culture in-jokes for grown-ups, and fart jokes for everyone. Shrek the Third isn't up with the best of the genre, but it's well above the median. I'm guessing it was a committee effort: multiple drafts by some of the top gag artists in the business and endless sprucing up by overpaid rewrite guys. Computer-generated animated movies with wall-to-wall jokes can be excruciating, but these jokes are the funniest money can buy.

I'm no Shrek pushover. I found the first one laborious, ugly, and, when Eddie Murphy's donkey sidekick was rolling his eyes and sounding like the "colored" help in old movies, creepy. But the sequel was light on its feet, and by kid-flick standards, rather subversive. The fat green ogre Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) fell for the willowy blonde Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), who turned out to have been under a spell: She was a fat green ogre herself! But she and Shrek weren't allowed to live grossly ever after. The kings, queens, fairy godmothers, and Prince Charmings wanted her skinny and blonde again.

Shrek 2 had wave upon wave of parodies. Shrek the Third has more. It's a busy movie, crammed with plot. While Fiona's dad, the king (John Cleese), now a frog (long story), lays dying, Fiona and Shrek are expected to carry on the pomp and circumstance. But flatulent ogres and royal protocol don't mix. So Shrek sets out to find another heir to the throne, one Arthur Pendragon (an earnest Justin Timberlake), a nerd at a medieval prep school across the ocean. As Shrek and his two sidekicks—Antonio Banderas's swashbuckling feline somewhat compensating for Murphy's ass—pull out to sea, Fiona stuns her husband with the news that she's pregnant.

The last Shrek introduced—hilariously—a host of fairy-tale figures, and Shrek the Third widens the net. To take back the kingdom, the spurned Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) assembles a crew of defeated villains like Captain Hook and Rumpelstiltskin. Charming plans to stage a traditional fairy-tale melodrama in which he gets to slay the ogre, but what happens when he and Shrek face off before the kingdom is a nerd's dream: Wit emasculates good looks. The bodily-function jokes fit beautifully into Shrek the Third's slob-happy worldview. Early on, Shrek nuzzles Fiona in bed. "Morning breath," he says, laughing. "Isn't it wonderful?" —Reviewed by David Edelstein, New York Magazine