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May 2007

SHREK THE THIRD

By Kam Williams

SHREK THE THIRD


Distributor: DreamWorks Animation (Paramount Picture)
Director: Chris Miller, Raman Hui
Screenwriter: Peter Seaman, Jeffrey Price
Cast: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, John Krasinski, Ian McShane

Rated PG for crude humor, suggestive language and daring action.
Running time: 92 minutes


 

   

Myers and Murphy and More Hijinks for the Lovable Ogre and His Chatty Donkey Sidekick

Despite a noticeable drop-off in adult appeal from Shrek 1, Shrek 2 nevertheless made almost a billion dollars at the box-office worldwide, thereby doubling the take of the original screen adaptation of the imaginative children’s tale written and illustrated by William Steig. So, review-proof Shrek the Third still would’ve been one of the biggest hits of this summer season even if it had simply been another mediocre sequel just aimed at the pre-pubescent set. However, first-time director Chris Miller rights the ship with this slight improvement, another readily disposable, animated adventure, this about the ogre who wouldn’t be king.

The voice cast again features Mike Myers in the titular role, along with Eddie Murphy as Donkey, Cameron Diaz as Princess Fiona, and John Cleese and Julie Andrews as her parents, the King and Queen of Far Far Away. Also back are Antonio Banderas as the swashbuckling Puss in Boots, Rupert Everett as Prince Charming, Christopher Knights as the Blind Mice and Cody Cameron as Pinocchio and The Three Little Pigs. The picture introduces a plethora of new characters plucked from familiar fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri), Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), Snow White (Amy Poehler), Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) and Rumplestiltskin (Conrad Vernon).The plot is a logical extension of developments from the earlier installments. Shrek 1 introduced the lovable green swamp thing and ended with his wedding to Fiona. In Shrek 2, the Princess took her lovable ogre home to “Meet the Parents.”

At this flick’s point of departure, we find King Harold, in failing health and urgently in need of an heir. Unassuming Shrek is reluctant to ascend to the throne, but when his froggy father-in-law croaks, he faces the fact that he’ll have to wear the crown, unless he can find a suitable replacement. Otherwise, the heir apparent will be his old nemesis, ambitious Prince Charming, an outcast from the royal castle who has now been reduced to performing in a demeaning dinner theater.

Fortunately, Fiona does have a more-deserving distant cousin (Justin Timberlake) in Artie, a nerdy teen who’s attending a medieval prep school suspiciously similar to Hogwarts, an obvious cinematic concession to the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise. After hearing from his wife that she’s expecting, a suddenly discombobulated Shrek sets off in search of her cousin. Accompanied by his trusted sidekicks, namely, the trash-talking Donkey and the debonair Puss in Boots, our humble hero embarks on a trek during which he finds himself at odds with an assortment of villains from famous fables, like Cyclops (Mark Valley), Cinderella’s evil step-sisters (Larry King and Regis Philbin) and Captain Hook (Ian McShane). But there’s never much doubt about how it will all turn out, for yet another happily-ever-after ending is obviously in the offing.

Along the way, brace yourself for sassy repartee, computer-generated slapstick, and scads of bodily function humor. Enough projectile vomit, fart and poop jokes to keep kids of any age enthralled for ninety-minutes.