So, the second of the three May trilogy movies opened this weekend. Shrek the Third is looking to capture the family audience that made the first two computer animated movies such big hits. While it has lots of humor and a great new story, it's just a shade off the previous entry.
Recommend this product?
Before I begin, I must note that this is indeed the third movie in the series. What that means is that, if you haven't seen the first two, you won't truly get everything that happens here. Frankly, I was glad I'd rewatched the first two this year because I don't think I would have gotten everything without having done so. Additionally, there are major spoilers ahead for the second movie, both in this review and the movie itself. If you really plan to watch it, do so before you see this one.
With that out of the way, let's get to it.
Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) are still in Far Far Away. Fiona's father, King Harold the frog (John Cleese), is dying, and the two are filling in for him at state functions. Shrek's really trying to handle things correctly, but he always makes a mess of things.
Unfotunately, King Harold croaks. But before he does, he tells Shrek that Fiona isn't the only heir to the throne. She has a distant cousin, Arthur (Justin Timberlake), who could become king. Since Shrek wants to return to the swamp and give up life in the palace, he sets off with his faithful friends Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find the heir.
Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) has been reduced to acting in bad dinner theater. After one especially bad performance, he decides to take what he feels is rightfully his. So he enlists the aid of every fairy tale villain he can find. This time, they are going to get their happily ever after. Will his plan succeed? Can Shrek find Arthur?
Like the first two, Shrek the Third is a funny film. There is still plenty of the bathroom humor that was present in the first two, but the double meanings and suggestion jokes seemed to be gone. Frankly, I was thankful for this. Yet there was still plenty of satire for the adults to laugh at. In fact, I think I heard more adults laughing then kids in the packed theater where I saw it.
All the previous main and minor characters are back, plus a plethora of new friends. Adding King Arthur to the mix is brilliant, and their wacky take on the well known characters is hilarious. Additionally, Fiona gets some new friends in the form of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel, all of whom add to the fun. And having Prince Charming team up with the other villains was brilliant. Frankly, this is the film Happily N'Ever After wished it could be.
The story is entertaining and fast moving. The moral is still about self-acceptance, but it has a fresh take on the theme that doesn't feel like a rehash yet ties in perfectly with the first two.
Again, the animation has advanced, making for some excellent shots, especially of the water. Yet they have kept the stylized characters and humans so it looks like it fits in with the first two.
Since all the characters are back, so are the voice actors. Again, they do a great job. My biggest disappointment was that I felt Julie Andrews was underused. Her character has plenty of screen time, but she doesn't have a whole lot to say.
A word of warning about the death scene. It is long and drawn out. While played for laughs (and it is pretty funny), it might be too much for some kids. Granted, it is a frog, but it also is Fiona's father. Every child is different, so you know best how your will react. But consider that before you take them.
I've spent most of the review praising the film. I really did enjoy it. But I did feel it wasn't as funny as the first two. While there were still plenty of laughs and satire, some of the bite was gone. It's good, but it doesn't live up to the other two.
The first computer animated comedy of the summer movie season is a hit. I'll be looking forward to adding this one to my DVD collection.