Shrek the Third rating:
Shrek the Third has the curse of the third in a bankable series. It is too often sappy, tiresome, and overblown.
A franchise such as Shrek, with all the money it has accumulated, should be able to buy a little freshness and originality. But instead it seems a leaden, lumbering afterthought.The key to the third movie in a series is the hype-- not the quality of the movie. The studios lust after a first weekend bonanza as their movie is released.
The first weekends of Spider-Man 3 and Shrek the Third smashed box office records. Spider-Man 3 took in $148 million -- the all-time opening record in the U.S. and Canada. It was followed by Shrek the Third, which broke the all-time record for the opening of an animated feature with $122 million.
The irony is that in its second week Spider-Man 3 fell off 60 percent at the box office. The word of mouth was that despite the bombastic hype, Spider-Man 3 was the least of the three Spider-Mans. It was a so-so movie.
Shrek the Third is even more mediocre and should tumble at the box office once people actually see it.
On Rottentomatoes -- a site that collects evaluations of critics and viewers nationally -- reviewers gave Spider-Man 3 a 61 percent favorable rating. Four out of ten reviewers were unimpressed. Shrek the Third got whacked by the reviewers with Rottentomatoes reporting that only 42 percent praised the film.
Perhaps more relevant was that the audience (users) -- usually a notoriously easy bunch -- gave the two blockbusters meager approval. According to Rottentomatoes, Spider-Man 3 got a 64 percent and Shrek was only 56 percent.
Cinemascore -- another national service that rates audience opinion -- said that the audiences rated both Disturbia and Fracture higher than the two blockbusters.
But what do the studios care? They broke records for attendance.
Shrek the Third is the story of how after the king of Far Far Away dies, Shrek -- who doesn't feel equipped to be king -- goes in search of Artie, another heir.
Fiona is pregnant, which sidetracks Shrek. And the kingdom of Far Far Away has several fairy tale princesses, who are part valley princesses and part action figures.
The film lurches from one part of the plot to another without continuity or wit.
Shrek the Third suffers from the arrogance of mediocrity. It is fairly easy to see why Shrek the Third comes up short.
The director Chris Miller and co-director Raman Hui are directing their first film. It is like the chefs of the first two films being replaced by fry cooks. It is as though it doesn't matter -- slop down anything, and the hungry audience will gobble it up.
Secondly, the writing is haphazard. Shrek the Third has four writers and three more who wrote additional dialogue. Seven total. Five for the poop jokes, and two for the vomit jokes. There's an attempt at satirizing the princesses, but it's more feeble than smart.
Shrek the Third seems very contrived and calculated. It's time for a comment by Donkey. Check. It's time for a princess to swoon. Check. It's time for Prince Charming to bore us. Check. It's time for another poop joke. Double check.
Everything in Shrek the Third seems inflated. Inanity abounds. It doesn't really abound; it proliferates. Too many inane princesses, a multitude of inane baby Shreks, repeated inane jokes.
Mike Myers and his brogue give the green ogre a little life, but the writers don't. Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is back but listless. Donkey (Eddie Murphy) flounders.
Artie, a new, dull character, (Justin Timberlake) is given a vapid, climactic speech about being yourself and caring about others. Maybe it's just bad satire; probably it's just bad.
The only character who keeps his personality intact is Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). He still is engaging. He still has flair. He probably slashed the writers when they tried to make him trite.
When Pinocchio's nose is one of the major sources for humor, you know that Shrek the Third has gone to the vault of old, hoary jokes. The absence of any sign of real wit may be Shrek
the Third's biggest failing. Wit and style made Shrek king; now he's abdicated from them.
For a change of pace, you might want to listen to interviews that I conducted in the 70s and 80s, some of which were published in my book Voices from the Set: The Film Heritage Interviews (2000).
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