Shrek the Third (2007) – Directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui – Starring Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Eric Idle, and Justin Timberlake.
I don’t quite hate the movie but I do actively dislike it. SHREK THE THIRD is a film almost entirely devoid of heart and sorely lacking in any genuine emotion. Watching the film is like attending your 10th high school reunion and having to deal with the high school wise ass spit the same insults he was using a decade ago – only now it’s tinged with a pathetic stink of him remaining trapped in time while the rest of the world spun on.
That’s SHREK THE THIRD, a film where old jokes and routines are recycled one more time, only this time the emphasis isn’t on the genuine heart that served as the previous two movies’ foundation, but on the smarmy jokes. The worst part of THE THIRD comes early on, when Shrek (Mike Myers), Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Donkey (Eddie Murphy), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), and Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) gather around the deathbed of King Harold (John Cleese). Harold’s death is played largely for laughs as he does a Bugs and Elmer routine where he dies, then comes back, then dies.
Blah. It’s not funny and it creates a horrible disconnect between what the characters are going through – this is Fiona’s dad and Lillian’s husband, after all – and what the audience is supposed to get out of the scene, which is a few laughs.
Because Far Far Away is ridiculously patriarchal, Shrek is in line to be the next ruler, instead of either Lillian or Fiona. In order to continue the “Shrek doesn’t believe himself capable of doing something emotional” bit, they compound Harold’s death with Fiona’s pregnancy to upset Shrek’s real desire to simply go back to the swamp and fart mud bubbles. Far Far Away is so patriarchal that for Shrek to get out of being King he’s got to hop in a ship and go looking for Arthur, some distant relation who is obviously not real tight with the family. Shrek immediately goes on this quest because he’s an assh*le. Upon Harold’s death, his immediate reaction is not, “Hey, what can I do to help my wife and my mother in law get through this awful time?,” but “How can I shirk any potential responsibilities coming my way?”
The entire premise of the movie, then, hinges on Shrek being a selfish dick who’s so desperate to get out doing anything that doesn’t match his lazy-ass worldview that he leaves his grieving wife in order to lie to a teenager so the kid can bear all the responsibility that Shrek doesn’t want.
There’s not a lot more I want to say about SHREK THE THIRD. I’m so turned off by the opening 30 minutes that the last hour is poisoned. It doesn’t help that the subplot involving famous princesses (Snow White, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Mabel the Ugly Stepsister) is unwatchable because of their spoiled nature. Nor does it help that Arthur (Justin Timberlake) is unlikable, or that Donkey and Puss are forced into a tired, body switching routine. SHREK THE THIRD joins Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand as one of the biggest third act disappointments in cinematic history.