** out of ****
Shrek the Third proves that, the third time isn’t always a charm. Back with Shrek (Mike Meyers), Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and the rest of the old gang, Shrek the Third, an animated fractured fairytale, looses much of its charm, appeal, and originality.
Shrek the Third is different from the first two films of the trilogy by having multiple story lines, trying to appeal to each demographic, even at a brisk 92 minutes. Opening up with the first storyline, Fiona’s father, King Harold (John Cleese) is on his deathbed and tells Fiona and Shrek that they are next in line to rule the Kingdom of Far Far Away Land. Shrek, unsure of his King-like abilities, sets off to Worchestershire (a medieval high school) with Puss and Donkey to find another rightful ruler, Arthur “Artie” (Justin Timberlake), the class whipping boy. But just before they set off on their adventure Fiona reveals that she is pregnant and like in any sitcom, Shrek is unsure of his father-like abilities too.
Storyline two is probably the weakest because it should have ended with Shrek 2; it starts with Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) who now is reduced to working at a dinner theater. Charming soon devises up a sinister plan to take over Far Far Away Land and murder Shrek in the process, in cahoots with other fairy-tale villains.
The final story line and the most compelling and funny is with Fiona, her mother, Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews), and the princesses, Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph), Snow White (Amy Poehler), Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), and Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri). All together to celebrate Fiona’s baby shower, they morph into Charlie’s Angels in an attempt to thwart Charming’s plans when he invades the kingdom.
Like Spider-Man 3, Shrek the Third’s problems are too many stories crammed into one movie, one of the underlying problems are the new directing and writing team. Many of the jokes fall flat and not one makes you keel over in laughter. Justin Timberlake gives a mediocre voice performance and Shrek is less of an ogre but more like a cuddly Winnie the Pooh type character.
I tried to like Shrek the Third, after the excellent Shrek, and the fantastic Shrek 2, but a smile became excoriating while watching, a film below mediocrity. The only plus is its improved stunning animation.
However, with its satisfying ending this would be a nice place to leave off. But, for this DreamWorks/Paramount cash-cow you won’t see the end anytime soon. With a holiday special on ABC this December, Shrek the Halls, a Shrek 4, in the works along with the spin-off, Puss in Boots (both set for 2010) and a Broadway musical adaptation in the process, Shrek’s last note hopefully doesn’t have to be of mediocrity.