‘Ogre' the hill: It's the croaking Frog King Harold (John Cleese) who unwittingly provides the metaphor for the state of this fairytale franchise...

Shrek The Third

on May 18, 2007 by Chad Greene
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It's the croaking Frog King Harold (John Cleese) who unwittingly provides the metaphor for the state of this fairytale franchise with a drawn-out death scene that's kind of funny at first but then drags on way too long. That a chorus of Harold's fellow frogs sings Paul McCartney's 1973 single “Live and Let Die,” of all things, at his funeral only confirms that there's not much here for the kids who'll drag their parents to the third volume of this ogre-the-hill storybook series.

Almost all of the central themes—and a majority of the jokes—here are strictly for adults, perhaps none more so than the not-so-jolly green giant Shrek's (Mike Myers) fear of fatherhood, made manifest in a not-so-jolly nightmare in which his swamp shack is infested with infants. That formerly funny sidekick Donkey (Eddie Murphy) sings Harry Chapin's 1974 hit “Cat's in the Cradle” to Shrek after finding out Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is pregnant doesn't do much to make this stuff any more relevant to children.

Speaking of fathers, it's the death of Fiona's that propels the plot of Shrek the Third . After Harold hops off to the great lily pad in the sky, the crown rests uneasily on the great green head of Shrek, who will have to abdicate the top spot in his beloved swamp in order to reign over Far, Far Away unless he can convince Fiona's distant cousin Arthur “Artie” Pendragon (Justin Timberlake) to rule in his stead.

When Shrek sails off to abduct Artie, it's up to Fiona and a band of plucky princesses voiced by comedians Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Amy Sedaris to fend off a coup d'etat by Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) in one of the few sequences in this sequel that reminds us of the sheer fun this franchise used to produce by fracturing fairytales.

Not to say that Shrek the Third is going to be the last in his line. Even though this is Far, Far Away from the best of the bunch, there are just enough bright bits like Eric Idle as a hippy-trippy Merlin in Birkenstocks and socks to guarantee that this one will—like its predecessors—be a great green monster at the box office. Distributor: Paramount/DreamWorks
Voices: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, John Krasinski and Ian McShane
Director: Chris Miller
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman and Chris Miller & Aron Warner
Producer: Aron Warner
Genre: Animated family comedy
Rating: PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action
Running time: 93 min.
Release date: May 18, 2007

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