Distributed By: DreamWorks Animation
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In 2001, a friend and fellow co-worker recommended I watch an animated film entitled Shrek. The movie, about an ogre who rescues a princess in an effort to save his swamplands from an evil Lord, captured the hearts of millions with its quirky spin on fairytales. Viewers got a much different view of characters such as The Muffin Man, The Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, Robin Hood, Sleeping Beauty and more. The parodies created around these characters were hilarious and the world fell in love with this belching, green monster with a heart of gold.
In 2004, Shrek 2 hit the theaters and was an instant success. This time around, Shrek is now married to Princess Fiona, the princess/ogre he met in the first movie. It is time for Shrek to meet Fiona’s royal parents. Shrek’s fears about meeting Fiona’s parents are realized when they immediately reject him as their son-in-law. Fiona’s Fairy Godmother, having long planned for her son, Prince Charming, to wed Fiona and become heir to the throne, devises a plan to destroy Shrek. However, with the assistance of his old friends, and a new one in a swashbuckling cat named Puss-in-Boots, Shrek and Fiona emerge victorious and Fiona’s father, King Harold, reveals that he too is not perfect. He is, in fact, the Frog Prince disguised as a human through the power of the Fairy Godmother. And they lived happily ever after…
…Until 2007, when the long awaited Shrek the Third hit the theaters. Having instantly fallen in love with the first two Shrek movies, I couldn’t wait to see this movie. The ensemble cast of Mike Myers (Shrek), Cameron Diaz (Fiona), Eddie Murphy (Donkey), Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), Julie Andrews (King Lillian), John Cleese (King Harold), and Rupert Everett (Prince Charming) are joined by Justin Timberlake, Regis Philbin, Larry King and more. In Shrek the Third, Shrek finds himself a tad out of place, substituting for King Harold who is ill. On his deathbed, Harold ruins Shrek’s plans to return to the swamp by announcing that he is dying and leaving the kingdom to Shrek. When Shrek protests, Harold mentions that there is possibly another heir named Arthur just before passing away.
Shrek, knowing that he is not exactly the perfect candidate to run a kingdom, resolves to find this young heir and return him to Far Far Away so that he can rightfully assume control of the kingdom. As he embarks on his journey with Donkey and Puss in Boots, he is shocked by news from Fiona of his impending fatherhood. Shrek is terrified of becoming a father and is uncertain how to take the news. Of course, with Shrek away, evil-doers will play and Prince Charming hatches a plot to take over the kingdom he believes is rightfully his. Counting on various fairytale villains such as Captain Hook, the Wicked Queen, Rumplestiltskin, the Headless Horseman and more, Prince Charming attacks Far Far Away, imprisoning Fiona and her family and friends. Can Shrek return with Arthur in time to restore order, or will his fear of fatherhood and lack of people skills doom the kingdom of Far Far Away.
The creators of Shrek have done it again! Viewers can certainly relate to the main character’s plight. Shrek’s fears about parenthood are equal to that of every father-to-be out there. Of course, not every father-to-be is about to have an ogre for a son or daughter, but I’m willing to bet that they might think of those tots as ogres once they start peeing, pooping and spitting up.
And yet, Shrek’s impending fatherhood plight wasn’t even the funniest part of the movie. I still marvel at the fact that folks bring their children to see Shrek movies. Though some scenes may be funny for children, most of the movie is clearly geared toward adults. I doubt that, when the Princesses of Far Far Away burn their bras, any child will understand. However, the adult women in the audience were simply in tears with laughter. And I’m fairly certain that the children that laughed at the itchy britches scene were only laughing at the visual spectacle. It was only the adults that got the true meaning of the hilarity of that scene. Of course, the kids would perfectly understand the scene in which the Gingerbread Man gets so scared that he...well, let's just say he makes an interesting deposit.
The addition of Arthur to the cast of characters is yet another addition to the parody of tales Shrek is comprised of. This time, it’s King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable. We have Arthur as the high school nerd who would be king, Lancelot as the high school bully, and Merlin as the loony magic professor. The fact that Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots must travel to high school to find Arthur opens up a new avenue for jokes about everything from teenage angst to peer pressure.
Visually, Shrek the Third is just as perfect as the two preceding movies. Puss in Boots continually reminds me of my own cats as he woos all of the female felines and puts on that pity-me-because-I’m-adorable face. The animation is colorful and captivating. Humans and creatures alike move as if they were real and the viewer easily transports his/herself into the movie as if he or she truly lived among these animated creatures.
As with all of the Shrek movies, the soundtrack of Shrek the Third is simply terrific. This album gives many nods to the older generation of rockers featuring songs performed by The Ramones, Led Zeppelin, Wings and Harry Chapin. Sly & the Family Stone’s classic Thank You is performed by Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas. Even Fergie gets in on the act with her rendition of a Heart classic Barricuda. The soundtrack is filled with rocking good fun.
Prior to viewing this movie, I read several critics’ reviews. Trust me, I had every intention of going to see the movie anyway, but I just wanted to read some other people’s impressions of Shrek the Third. I was immediately struck by some critics’ views that although this movie is as funny as the others, it does nothing to top the other movies. What’s wrong with being just as funny?! Why does everything have to be bigger and better?
My philosophy – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And let me tell you – the Shrek franchise is certainly not broke! This story is the further tales of Shrek the ogre, not the bigger, better, more important tales of the jolly green giant! And yes, this movie is just as hysterical as the last two – so what?! The true test of a movie worth its money? I had so much fun that I didn’t even feel the dent that the price of tickets and assorted goodies made in my wallet.