Drawn That Way
Shrek the Third
By Daniel Pellegrino
February 8, 2010
Watching Shrek the Third is like sucking on batteries. You're disgusted as you're watching it, and when it's over you wish you hadn't done it. I sucked on batteries this week when I watched Shrek the Third. It's the third film in the Shrek series, following two solid entries that were clever send-ups of the fairytale genre. While many would argue that the second Shrek film was bad, I actually think it was the best film of the series thus far. The creators took what worked with the first film and expanded those qualities in the second. Unfortunately, expanding those qualities even further created a huge mess of a film in Shrek the Third. Too many things were thrown at the screen in the third film and the result is battery sucking.
Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz reprise their roles in Shrek the Third, and Justin Timberlake, Eric Idle and a slew of others join them. In terms of voice acting, it felt as though producers gave a role to every "name" actor who wanted one, regardless of how the character served the story. I'd like to take a moment to add that Timberlake should not be in movies. He has shown charisma on-screen during various Saturday Night Live visits, and his musical talents have proven successful. But that's enough. My theory is that audiences don't want to see someone be great at everything. This is why people ignore Scarlett Johansson's foray into music. She's a great actor, and people tend to be jealous. Audiences want her to stick to movies so they don't feel worse about themselves. No one wants to see a good-looking person be a great actor, singer and rich. Also, just because we like your acting, doesn't mean we like your singing. Apparently Jennifer Lopez has yet to receive her memo on the issue as she is still trying to force music in our ears and is gearing up to present some more horrid-looking romantic comedies in 2010.
Back to Shrek the Third. The fun of the first film was that it made fun of the typical fairytale stereotypes. We laughed when Pinocchio told an inappropriate lie and revealed his affinity to women's clothing. When that joke is recycled in the third film, it isn't funny. Jokes that worked in the first film worked because they were surprising. In the second film, those same jokes were recycled but heightened. By the third, they we simply recycled. There was nothing new to laugh at and it felt forced.
The animation is fine. Just fine. When I watch Pixar movies, I'm usually taken aback by certain animated sequences - the rain in Ratatouille, the star scene in WALL-E, the hair in Monsters, Inc. Shrek the Third? Not so much.
The story? Umm...it's fine. Something about a new king. The plot of the film was obviously secondary to getting the picture ready in time for a summer release. That is another one of the problems with the film. Let's say you liked the movie. I'm willing to bet that 90% of the audiences that saw the film AND liked the film would be unable to identify the plot after the end credits rolled. Those people who enjoy the film enjoy it because of the jokes that they find funny (no matter how unoriginal). The plot just isn't cohesive enough to be remembered.
Another Shrek movie is on its way. It's been a little while since the last film, so maybe it will be better. I hope so. The characters are certainly likeable. If creators can get a good story and find fresh humor, than maybe the franchise could be saved.
One more thing before I wrap this up. Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Cheri Oteri and Amy Sedaris all play various princesses in the film. These are hilarious women who brought some humor and originality to the movie. Unfortunately, they weren't in it enough or given much to work with. My suggestion- scrap the fourth film and the Puss In Boots spin-off, and do a DreamWorks Princess film. Bring in Tina Fey to write a draft that is Mean Girls-esque, animate it and get it to theaters in time for Easter of 2011. It may be just the thing to revive this tired franchise.