Do ogres go through mid-life crises? “Shrek the Third” tries to answer that question in standard fable form as it addresses issues of fatherhood, friendship and the acceptance of our true selves-insert “aww” sound here.
Shrek (voiced by Mike Myers) is going through a crisis that is prompted by the death of King Harold, his father-in-law. His passing entails Shrek’s ascendance to the throne as King of Far, Far Away; that is, unless Shrek can find his wife Fiona’s cousin Artie and somehow persuade him to continue his family’s legacy. John Cleese and Cameron Diaz reprise their roles from the second Shrek installment while Justin Timberlake voices the additional Artie character.
So, Shrek sets off on yet another whirlwind quest accompanied by his pals Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) determined to coerce Artie into becoming king. As Shrek is departing, Fiona shouts from the pier that she is pregnant. As Shrek confusedly comes to terms with his soon-to-be-fatherhood, Puss comforts him by saying, “You are royally [sounds of blaring fog horn].”
As Shrek and company travel far, far away from Far, Far Away, they land in high school hell as they search for Artie, a teen so nerdy even the nerds pick on him. As Shrek leads awkward Artie to Far, Far Away, the two learn from each other about the true value of self-esteem. Artie learns from Shrek that, not surprisingly, it is okay to be different. And Shrek somehow learns Parenting Skills 101 from his fast-growing relationship with Artie.
Meanwhile, in Far, Far Away, the evil Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) leads a diverse gang of standard fairy tale bad guys ranging from Captain Hook to the Headless Horseman in a mutiny against the current do-gooders who rule the kingdom while their ogre-hero is away. Fiona must enlist the help of girlfriends Snow White (Amy Poehler), Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri) and Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) to thwart Charming’s plans for a royal coup.
Will Artie become king, or is Far, Far Away doomed in the hands of Charming and his villainous crew? More importantly, will the audience (adults and children alike) be able to swallow this huge dose of good morals and maintain any interest in the thin storyline?
Yes. As didactic as this film is, it’s also a lot of fun.
True, it doesn’t have that same freshness of the original “Shrek.” True, some of the jokes become a little old. True, Artie make us realize that Justin Timberlake’s voice is oddly feminine.
Yet the majority of the movie is filled with a lot of diverse laughs designed to appeal to everyone. Much like the previous two films, there is a good ratio of zany physical humor for the kids to bawdy jokes for the parents – yay for dumb Hooters references in a kiddie kingdom. The bevy of heroines and their conflict with Prince Charming even provided a message of unadulterated girl power that hasn’t been seen since the Spice Girls and the early demise of their once resplendent careers.
“Shrek the Third” is what it is, and is sure to appeal to its built in audience base. It has a good dose of stupid humor along with beautiful graphics for the young child and the stoned college student alike. What better reasons could there be to go to the movies?