Anthony's Film Review

Shrek the Third (2007)

An unnecessary movie sequel and a great example of failed comedy attempts...

I purposefully went to see Shrek the Third knowing that I would not enjoy it as much as Shrek the First and Shrek the Second. Remember, I'm not just a moviegoer. I'm also an amateur film critic. If a film isn't enjoyable enough, at least I still have fun reviewing it. I also have written reviews of so many good films that I need to balance them with more negative reviews. So by saying that, I pretty much have told you what I think of Shrek the Third.

The movie has a plot that has the potential to be funny and satirical like the preceding Shrek movies. The ogre has been chosen by the dying King Harold to be the next king of Far Far Away. There's one problem. He doesn't like the royal lifestyle and longs to be back at his swamp home. He, Donkey, and Puss-in-Boots journey to seek Artie, whom Harold mentions as another option for heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Prince Charming is dissatisfied about not living happily ever after. He rallies Captain Hook, an ugly stepsister, and other fairy tale villains to steal the throne and rule Far Far Away, getting back at the other fairy tale characters who found better lives. This is the kind of material that would work in this movie. The problem is that the script didn't develop it enough.

Instead, the writers chose to focus on humor and end up overdoing it. Most of the jokes are either recycled from earlier films or original but not funny enough. The humor method they clearly reuse is pop culture references. The first Shrek had some modernization of the medieval setting and Shrek 2 did it some more. I was OK with what they did for those two movies. This time, Shrek the Third crossed the line. At times, the references to our modern world are frequent and prevalent. The best example of this is when Shrek, Donkey, and Puss meet Artie at a medieval high school. The whole thing felt too much like a modern high school that I literally forgot that I was watching a medieval setting. Artie is really Arthur Pendragon as a wimpy high school kid with Lancelot being the jock in the school's jousting team. The legend of Camelot could have been satirized better alongside the rest of the plot, but again, the writers just put it aside.

The film also demonstrates that the writers don't understand the elements of comedy. I am no comedian, but I know what makes things funny. Timing is a key element. You don't just throw in a bunch of gags involving randomness or the unusual and expect people to laugh. You have to arrange it the right way. You have to look at your layout of jokes and imagine how the audience would react. Would they laugh with the first few jokes and then expect more? Would they not expect to laugh at this other moment, which would be a great opportunity to throw in another joke? Is the joke funny in more than one way? It's things like these that make comedy writing a challenging art.

But I save my biggest complaint for last. There is material in this film that just doesn't belong. I'm not talking about poop and vomit jokes or other innuendo, though I wouldn't mind toning them down. I'm talking about plot lines that you know kids would care nothing about. What really doesn't belong in Shrek the Third is the stuff about Shrek and Fiona expecting a baby. There's a scene where Shrek is having nightmares about ogre babies running around. There's also a baby shower with Fiona and other female characters, including four generic cranky women designed to look like Snow White, Cinderella, Rumplestiltskin, and Sleeping Beauty. I could care less about this stuff. The kids will get bored. Heck, even I got bored.

It just comes to show that any film franchise is prone to being ruined by less than stellar sequels. If you're going to make a sequel, you cannot repeat too much of what happened before it. It still has to be original and fresh as if you're making the first film in the series. I will say that the film picked up in the climax and the ending, though they still didn't save the movie. With this and a large chunk of film in the middle that was a struggle to sit through, it's a reminder that there's nothing wrong with stopping while you're ahead and at the top.

Put it this way. Of the previews that came before the feature presentation of Shrek the Third, I found the trailer for Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille, about a cute little rat who wants to be a chef, more touching than the entirety of Shrek the Third. If only films are made as what they truly are: works of art.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Shrek the Third, visit the Internet Movie Database.

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