Shrek the Third
Shrek the Third pretty much serves up the same tired fairytale shenanigans with little of the original's magic. Still, the franchise's undeniable charm alleviates some of the Third 's banality.
Poor Shrek (Mike Myers). The irascible ogre just can't catch a break. First he has to leave his beloved swamp to rescue Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). Then he marries her and has to go meet the in-laws. NOW, he's stuck in Far, Far Away as its de facto ruler after the frog king croaks. Oh, and he finds out Fiona is pregnant, too. All this throws the great green one into a tailspin because 1) impending fatherhood scares the bejeezus out him and 2) he believes he has no business being king. So, Shrek sets out with his pals Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to fetch Artie, aka Arthur (Justin Timberlake), Fiona's cousin and next in line for the throne. Thing is, Artie's just a teenagerand kind of a loser one at that; he really doesn't want to be king either. Meanwhile, on the home front, Fiona and her merry band of princesses have to defend the castle against the vain Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), who's hell bent on getting revenge and taking over Far, Far Away. And so the high jinks ensure. But it's OK, it all works out in the end.
Certainly part of Shrek's charm is its vocal talent. Myers, Diaz and Murphy are all old pros by nowwhich is actually a good and bad thing. They are definitely more comfortable with their roles, but Shrek isn't nearly as charmingly irritable as he once was and Fiona not as feisty. Guess they are growing up. And Murphy used to get all the best lines as the jittery Donkey. Now, that job has been delegated to the likes of Banderas as Puss, as well as side characters such as the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon), Pinocchio (Cody Cameron) and the Three Little Pigs (also Cameron). Also adding to the humor are the various princesses, especially SNL alums Amy Poehler as the sardonic Snow White, and Maya Rudolph as turncoat Rapunzel, plus Amy Sedaris as the dimwitted Cinderella. Timberlake is sweetly goofy as Artie, while Brit comic legend Eric Idle voices the New Age-y, on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown Merlin the magician with aplomb. It's these characterizations that make Shrek the Third zing.
Much like Shrek 2, this third installment ultimately comes off as a retread. They just haven't been able to recapture the magic created in the original. Instead, the filmmakers regurgitate the same comic set ups and, in some cases, the same jokes. Maybe they won't ever be able to reach that same plateau. But you've still got to give the Shrek franchise props for being the granddaddy of fairy-tale spoofs. Even if the sequels don't measure up, the Shrek phenomenon on the whole has set the bar, creating a certain charisma in the let's-make-fun-of-traditional-lore milieu. Shrek the Third highlights include: Worcestershire High School, where Artie goes to school, which is full of John Hughes teenagers talking in medieval, oh-thou-di'nt-just-say-that speak; Charming being relegated to doing third-rate dinner theater; Pinocchio trying to talk his way around not lying, and more. Oh, who cares what us dumb critics say anyway. Kids are going to love Shrek the Third regardless of whether it hits the mark or not.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 1/2 stars.