After the continued box office success of the franchise with Shrek 2, it was only a matter of time until Shrek the Third was released. Commercially it was less successful than its immediate predecessor but still took a phenomenal $798m form a budget of $160m and comfortably gave Dreamworks a reason to release a fourth part. With the King of Far, Far Away (John Cleese) about to die, he informs Shrek (Mike Myers) and Fiona (Cameron Diaz) that they are next in line to the throne. Keen to avoid this, Shrek sets out with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find the King’s nephew Artie (Justin Timberlake) before Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) can usurp the title.
Reuniting the old cast, Dreamworks Animation chose to stick close to the formula that worked so well in the first two films. Shrek has a problem and must venture into the fairytale wild to solve the problem, save the day and most importantly have some laughs along the way. Sadly this is where Shrek the Third fails. In fact, not just fails, but utterly fails.
The charm and wit appears to be there in a rather fun opening segment, but the moment Shrek sets out on his quest, things fall apart. The laughs are so infrequent and so tired and lazy that there is precious little enjoyment to be had in Shrek the Third. The show stealing performances from Eddie Murphy’s Donkey and Antonio Banderas’ Puss from the originals are all gone, leaving them a shadow of their former selves. There’s nothing for them to do throughout other than a ridiculous and unfunny body swap arc.
Shrek is also stale, with this being his third almost identical quest. The character appears tired of life, as is his way, but this time around it makes the whole narrative seem the same. Kids will still laugh at the silly faces and physical gags, but for the adults accompanying them, there is precious little in Shrek the Third to break the mundane boredom other than some lovely visuals, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before (the previous Shrek films) and better (anything by Pixar).
Showing its age quite badly, Shrek the Third is one of the biggest drop-offs in quality for a third part of a trilogy. Not funny, incredibly boring and lacking any of the charm of the originals, it’s a kids film with nothing to say and should probably be consigned to the history bin of animated films for everyone’s sakes.
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