Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Repeat Bidness: Shrek the Third

Release: 05/18/2007
DVD Release: 11/13/2007
Rated PG
1 hour, 32 minutes

Second Run Seats ($$)

"Mildly Inspired, Mostly Tired"

The laundry list of talent returns to their cash cow to voice the characters audiences have been flocking to since 2001. This time around Shrek and Fiona learn that Shrek is to be heir to the throne of Far, Far Away. Shrek, ironically uncomfortable with being a leader, learns that Fiona has a cousin, Arthur, voiced by Justin Timberlake (Alpha Dog), who is also eligible for the duties of king. Shrek, with his traveling companions Donkey and Puss In Boots, sets sail to bring back Arthur and spare himself from a lifetime of tight fitting wardrobes and responsibility. Meanwhile, the defeated Prince Charming has a plan to rally the villains of Far, Far Away to take over the kingdom and anoint themselves as rulers.

What is left to say about the characters of Shrek? These stories and the characters have become old hat for Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy. Antonio Banderas continues to shine as Puss In Boots. The wolf, the three pigs, Pinocchio, and the Gingerbread Man (everyone’s favorite supporting characters) return to inspire giggles and laughter when Shrek and Donkey often fall short. Minor players Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Beauty, and even Doris appear in this installment, and are voiced by Amy Sedaris (*Elf), Amy Poehler (The Ex), Maya Rudolph (Idiocracy), Cheri Oteri (Scary Movie), and Larry King. Timberlake appropriately fits the bill as whiny, bitter teenaged Arthur. So when all these enjoyable characters are assembled onscreen and you find yourself yawning instead of holding your sides, something must be wrong.

What’s wrong is that the story is weak. At this point, the hurdles in Shrek’s life are more like speed bumps. Audiences can’t become overly invested in seeing a sub-par resolution. Granted, the villainous onslaught by Charming and company is exciting and far better accomplished than in this year’s Shrek wannabe “Happily N’Ever After,” but it ends too abruptly and the wealth of hilarity must have been left on the drawing boards. Seeing the ladies of the fairy tales kick butt and take names was stirring, but again the story returns to mediocrity far too quickly to hold your attention.

Dirty Undies
Though all three films have had a PG rating, the first two definitely pushed some adult envelopes with such gimmicks as Pinocchio in a thong. This time around, the writers barely bother with putting anything adult in the film, leaving nothing for parents to worry about having their kids pick up on.

The Money Shot
The bad thing about the “Shrek” franchise is that the original film broke the animated fairy-tale mold by ribbing and jibing the classic tales of old. It was new and fresh, but this is the third time around and the franchise’s ingenious formula, which its creators continue to use, has now become the by-the-numbers schtick they used to ridicule. One would wish that a fresh and exciting idea is right around the corner, but with another sequel and a spin-off film in the works, you can either hope for improvement or distance yourself from the series while you have the chance.

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  1. Maya Randolph (Idiocracy) made me laugh for some reason...

    Isn't she better know for SNL? I assume you were going for the movie theme, either that or you were pimping a great movie that doesn't get enough attention.

    The moral of my story is: Idiocracy good.

  2. Yes! I was indeed a pimp for Idiocracy, and for Maya Rudolph. I think she deserves more credit than she gets. Nobody has a talent for Whitney or Beyonce like Maya!