Shrek the Third (2007)
It's good to be the king.....or is it?
Why is it that some movie franchises just don't know when to quit? After all, the first "Shrek" movie was great. The second one was funnier, but the story wasn't anywhere near as original as the first film. Therefore, what could Dreamworks possibly do in the third film within the franchise? Why not have Shrek (Mike Myers) deal with the thought of fatherhood? Yes, you heard me correctly. After living happily with his wife, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), it turns out she's pregnant. Needless to say, this causes Shrek to reevaluate his life, as he's unsure if he would be that great of a father. Besides, what does he know about fatherhood, as even his own father tried to eat him as a baby.
If that wasn't enough to worry about, the King of Far Far Away (John Cleese), Fiona's father, is dying and leaves the kingdom in Shrek's hands. Reluctant to accept, as it becomes obvious Shrek is in way over his head. As he's not familiar with the fancy and prestigious life of a king, but what can he do? It's not like there was any other suitors or potential heirs to the throne outside of him, or is there? Which leads us to the nerdy young Arthur a.k.a. Artie (Justin Timberlake), who happens to be the King's nephew. Upon discovering Artie's bloodline to the King, Shrek just can't seem to wait to talk to the young lad about possibly taking his place. However, what he doesn't bargain for is that not only does this kid suffer from severe abandonment issues and happens to be a bit of a social outcast himself, but now it seems the vain and narcissistic Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is back to seek revenge against Shrek and take over the throne. Yep, it sure does look like our heroes are back for another whirlwind adventure alright.
Like the last two movies, "Shrek the Third" does deal with the concept of outer beauty vs. inner beauty again. While subtly adding the moral lesson, "you shouldn't judge a person on social status", as well to their fairy tale story. I won't go into too much detail over the film's story, as we all know what happens in the movie. After all, it's a family film so I doubt seriously we can ever expect "Shakespeare" like story lines. However, I do expect some originality like the first film presented. For those who never saw the first movie of this franchise, the original "Shrek" was predictable and cliched, but it presented a lot of original concepts that were never explored before within an animated film. Such concepts like showing children that looks don't always dictate the type of person you are. A handsome prince could turn out to be a jerk, or a smelly and ugly ogre could turn out to be a hero. Or that a beautiful princess doesn't always have to be a "damsel in distress" figure. Indeed, "Shrek" wasn't exactly a great story, but it was highly original in it's attempt to showcase an unlikely villain along with an unlikely hero. Is it any wonder why people love Shrek? I don't think so, as he's very relatable for most viewers. After all, we all can't be "Prince Charmings" nor "Princesses", but that's okay. As it doesn't matter who you are on the outside, it's who you are on the inside that counts. Sure, you can argue that Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" do the same thing. However, "Shrek" does it so much better, and it pokes fun at a lot of the typical fairy tale cliches as well.
Indeed, the first "Shrek" movie did present a different and unique type of fairy tale, with a very original concept. Sadly, like all Hollywood sequels these days, the "Shrek" franchise retreaded and over uses that concept obsessively. Almost like if they thought that was their only "bread and butter" to work with. Sure, they got away with it during "Shrek 2" mostly because of a bigger supporting cast and a lot more jokes, than the original movie. However, in "Shrek the Third" it comes off too much like an after school special. Constantly drilling it into the heads of your kids that inner beauty is the most important thing about a person but what they failed to realize was, that the first two films did the same thing but only a helluva a lot better. Even some of the jokes felt like they were nothing more than a rehash of the gags from the first two movies. It almost made me sick to my stomach watching this. Seriously, can't the writers think of something else? After all, the "Toy Story" franchise at least tries to mix it up with some new ideas for each film they make. However, not "Shrek", as Dreamworks would rather stay the course and pound the same tired old concept over and over again until it dies. Not saying it's a bad thing, since most film franchises fall into that same trap. However, it's a bit disappointing from a franchise that used to be full of great ideas.
Although I did love the whole concept of the fairy tale princesses like Snow White, Cinderella and others turning from mere damsel in distresses to "Charlie's Angels" type girls. As I found that part to quite hysterical. Sadly, it wasn't enough to redeem most of this film's lack of originality over all though.
That's not to say that this is a bad film or anything. No, just a borderline decent one at best. As the story is still very relatable for most viewers and it offers an easy to follow storyline for the kiddies, without being condescending to adults. Plus, the visuals are still a sight to behold, as one would expect from Dreamworks animation. However, I just wish the story would've been a helluva a lot better than this. Overall, "Shrek the Third" is good for a few laughs, but it's hardly as great as the previous two films.