Shrek The Third

Jorge Costa 11/07/2007

Rating: 2/5

“Shrek The Third” opens with an unintentional piece of foreshadowing. Reduced to a third rate actor, Prince Charming (Everett) is booed off stage after failing to illicit any laughs, thrills, or dramatic suspense from his audience; unfortunately, that ends up applying to the film itself. Of course, to expect that this film could at least match the laugh-a-minute riot that was “Shrek 2” was unrealistic (even if the laughs were all that the second film had going for it), but equally unexpected is how half-arsed the 'Third' turned out to be.

Nearly everything on display feels stretched, tired and ever so slight; at 90 minutes in length, the film doesn't develop into anything significant and it's almost as if the filmmakers just wanted get the entire ordeal over and done with. Funny thing is, even at this short time, the film still feels incredibly laborious to watch and part of the problem is the fact that the lead characters just aren't that interesting anymore.

Shrek (Myers) sees his plans to get back to his swamp - after two sequels he's STILL moaning about his fecking swamp - thrown into disarray after the death of King Harold (Cleese) leaves him and Fiona (Diaz) as the next rulers of 'Far Far Away'. Refusing to accept his new title, Shrek instead goes in search of the next person in line for the throne leaving a pregnant Fiona in the castle while the kingdom is invaded by Prince Charming and a horde of fairytale baddies demanding their own 'happily ever after'.

That latter part of the plot is actually a rather interesting concept, but it is never fully exploited, for laughs or otherwise, and instead develops into a generic girl power revolt (burning bras are still funny, apparently) as Fiona and a handful of other princesses lead a rescue mission. Just don't expect a huge finally in the order of the second film.

Don't expect many laughs either. Instead of silly pop-culture references, we get loads of cast in-jokes which are likely to fly over most people's heads as well as an over reliance on the word “ew!” to generate the weakest of smiles. You just end up wishing that a twisted fairy tale mutant, like Jennifer Saunder's Fairy Godmother, would crop up and add some life to the script, but it never materialises.

What does keep the film from totally sinking is the menagerie of fairytale critters who manage to pull the rug out from under the lead quartet's feet. Eric Idle punches in his time sheet to play a trippy-hippy Merlin, while the half dozen princesses provide the best banter. Surprisingly, however, it's the Gingerbread Man that steals all his scenes and is the source of the film's funniest sequence. But they're not onscreen nearly enough to save the film.

You do get the impression that the fairytale world has been completely mined for its comedic value. With two more sequels already in the works (as well as a 'Puss In Boots' spin-off), the filmmakers are obviously going to keep milking this cash cow until it has dried up completely, effectively turning this franchise into the sort of the thing that it was making fun of in the first place.