Disappointment Doesn't Even Begin to Cover Shrek the Third
by Dave Minkus
May 17, 2007
First things first, if you haven't seen the trailer for Shrek the Third yet, add a full half point to my rating. For everyone else (and considering that most people who read this site probably have seen the trailer, it should be the majority), the rating stands and congratulations! You've just seen at least a portion of 95% of the jokes that appear in Shrek the Third!
I know that people talk about a convoluted plot in movies these days, and on a very high level, the third installment of the Shrek series has a well-established storyline. Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is back and this time he's bringing along all the fairy tale villains and they are going to make their own happily-ever-after, even if it means killing people and locking up everyone standing in their way. Meanwhile, Shrek (Mike Myers) is off with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss (Antonio Banderas) looking for the heir to the throne. From there, it seems that the writers just sat around bouncing ideas off each other to see what they could add as jokes. "High school jokes are funny! They'd even be funnier with an ogre!" "Let's take one of the most powerful characters in all of mythology and reduce him to a touchy-feely hippie because of a nervous breakdown!" "Let's make a couple characters change bodies! We don't actually have to do anything with it. It'll just be funny to have the actors' voices coming out of another character!" No really, it's that bad.
Let's get the good out of the way before I have to put on the rubber gloves to start performing the autopsy on this corpse of a film. Dreamworks Animation took what were fairly dull character models and sharpened some of them considerably. I really noticed the amount of detail that was added to Prince Charming, and the character really does look good. Everyone else and the backgrounds were pretty much sharpened up and that was about it. It also has to be mentioned that for some inexplicable reason, the animators decided that King Arthur (Justin Timberlake), known as Artie in the movie, should look like Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter.
The voice talent wasn't bad and got the job done. I do think it's a shame that former Monty Python actors keep lending their voices to such crap considering how visionary their past work is, but people gotta work. Eric Idle was perfectly fine in his role as Merlin, but anybody could have done any of these roles.
I know that it's clichÃ© to say that the best parts of a movie are in the trailer, but it is dead accurate in the case of Shrek the Third. I counted a total of three scenes that I found at least somewhat humorous that didn't appear in the trailer. I won't ruin them except to say that I did laugh out loud at the Hooters sight gag. The reason I said to add a half point to my score if you haven't seen the trailer is because the crowd I saw it with laughed at every single gag that was in the trailer.
One thing that is a staple of Shrek films is their use of pop rock in the films and they used plenty in this one too, but the use of music was erratic at best and just wrong in others. When one of the characters dies at the beginning of the film, the song used was "Live and Let Die", which I'm sure was supposed to be funny and sweet, but it just came off as mean and out of place.
When it comes down to it, Shrek the Third plays more like a pilot for Shrek: The TV Series. The writers essentially threw a bunch of sitcom situations into a feature length film and the result is an uneven mess that makes no sense at its best and absolutely sucks at its worst (don't even get me started on how the bad guys turned quicker than Anakin in Revenge of the Sith at the end). If you have a child and are going to get dragged to this right away, you have my sympathy and may God have mercy on your soul.