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Review: Shrek 3

Shrek 3
7 10

PLOT: Shrek the Third finds the big, green ogre and his lovely wife Fiona filling in for her parents due to her father, King Harold and his deteriorating health. As Harold gets weaker and weaker, he asks Shrek to take over as king of Far Far Away. Not wanting to leave behind the good life of living in his humble swampy abode, he searches for the only other heir that could take his place, an awkward teen named Arthur. Meanwhile, that devilish Prince Charming has plans of his own as he gathers all the evil characters he can find to take over and create his own happily ever after.

REVIEW: In this second sequel of the Shrek franchise, I found much of what worked in the first two films to be proudly on display. The big green ogre voiced by Mike Myers and the oftentimes hilarious relationship he has with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) is still comic gold. And thankfully, we get more of that smooth kitty the third time out, and Mr. Banderas brings out Puss’ rico suave like the champ he is. The many other characters that populate Far Far Away still make for some witty and laugh out loud humor, especially the Gingerbread Man. He makes me feel bad for eating his relatives.

And as with the third in any franchise, there are many more characters that have supporting roles. Some of the most clever involve Snow White (Amy Poehler), Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) and Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri) who puts her narcolepsy to good use, while Snow White enjoys a little song with a bit of a twist. Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is back and he’s still looking to get rid of Shrek once and for all. His opening moments in the film really shine and he almost garners some sympathy for his pathetic self. I always thought there must be something wrong with this guy.

As for the look and sound of the film, the third is truly a sight to behold. The animation was stunning with several moments that felt as real as any live action flick. You can’t take your eyes off it. Visually, it is very compelling and it gives the animated characters depth. This is probably the best looking of all three movies. And add to that a very well-placed soundtrack including Paul McCartney and Wings addition to the 007 series, “Live and Let Die” (albeit, it context, it’s a little twisted) and the Dionne Warwick and friends sappy love fest, “That’s What Friends Are For” courtesy of Merlin (Eric Idle). This series has always used music to its advantage… it still holds true here. And it’s always nice to hear Donkey performing classic Harry Chapin; seriously, this is funny stuff.

Even though I enjoyed many of the additions to the cast, they did seem to take away from the Shrek charm a bit. The story tends to get a bit bogged down with unnecessary cameos and too much going on. I appreciated all the fun that this star-studded cast brings, but at times it didn’t work. Emphasizing all the side characters took a little bit of screen time from the more developed characters over the past two movies. This left me wanting more of the folks I’ve grown to love in Far Far Away. One of the most notable additions is Justin Timberlake who plays a supposed loser named Artie. Even the animation made this guy look pretty. So it was lacking in credibility when the Dungeons and Dragons dorks pick on him as does everyone else. Yet he does do a nice enough job that for awhile, I forgot the dude used to be in N’Sync.

While Shrek the Third doesn’t live up to the first, it rates close to the second. It is still an oftentimes hilarious kid’s flick that has plenty to keep the adults happy. The many references to movies and pop-culture are still fast and furious (one film NOT referenced) including a very odd mix of “It’s Alive” and “Porkys”… trust me, it’s damn funny. This is a smart, sweet story with fantastic animation and a few moments of sheer comic brilliance. All the while it delivers a positive message for children about being yourself no matter what others think, even if it is a bit clichéd. It kept a smile on my face and my foot tapping with the inspired soundtrack. This is a great summer movie that you can take the kids too without regret; it’s almost worth seeing for the “croaking” scene alone. You’ll know it when you see it. And if you’ve seen the first two, there’s not a reason in the world you shouldn’t go for thirds.

My rating 7/10 -- JimmyO




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