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STUDIO: Dreamworks Animation
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: PG
RUNNING TIME: 92 Minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Artie’s Yearbook
- Shrek’s Guide to Parenthood
- Lost Scenes
- Tech of Shrek
- Big Green Goofs
- Learn to Donkey Dance
- Shmash Ups: Make your own Video
- Merlin’s Magic Crystal Ball
- Tournament Games
- And many more Shrek-tivities

The Pitch

Third time’s the rape.

The Humans

Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas, Justin Timberlake, Jon Krasinski, Eric Idle, Amy Poehler, Cheri Oteri, Julie Christie, Rupert Everett, and others making a quick paycheck procurement. 

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Just the mention of Bob Barker is enough to send a chill down the feline spine.

The Nutshell

In this third installment of the popular franchise, we return to the land of Far Far Away to find that Fiona’s father, the King, is dying. He names Shrek the next heir to the throne, but Shrek, shirking responsibility (in a way that is never really addressed by the narrative) goes off to find Arthur, the next in line to ascend to the throne. He finds him in the present-recontextualized-as-past-pu-pu-platter high school and tries to lure him back to Far Far Away with the help of Puss in Boots and Donkey. Meanwhile, with Shrek away, Prince Charming returns to Far Far Away with all of the villainy of stories past to take control of the land and name himself king. It’s up Shrek’s wife Fiona, her mother, and a bevy of princesses (Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White) to take the initiative and save Far Far Away.

The Lowdown

When your first film is already teetering on the edge of acceptability (for the record, I thought it was fun but I’ve never felt the urge to revisit it since, and more than likely never will again), the law of diminishing returns states that by the third time around, you’re basically working from the scrapheap. And it’s not like this criticism is going to matter much; Shrek is more successful than you, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Eventually (I’d estimate somewhere around Shrek VII: Lost in New York) the audiences might start to catch that stale whiff that eminates from the screen as jokes are recycled to lesser and lesser effect. And it’s not that recycling a joke is bad (Hawks always was a fan of utilizing what works again and again), it’s the lack of effort that seems to go into each of these movies that makes them a slog to get through.

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Did this gentleman:

a) Just see the ring?

or

b) Just see Shrek the Third?

It’s the bland inoffensiveness of the series that offends me so much, strangely enough.  There isn’t earned emotion in this series, there is a montage of indie rock music cues that tell you what to feel. Animation isn’t a hard place to manipulate the heartstrings of a viewer (see almost every Pixar movie ever made), but when you’re mostly relying on pop culture references or constant recontextualization of the present into the antiquated ways of this fairy tale world, there isn’t a whole lot of time for character development that allows for one to give a shit about what’s happening on screen. We’ve been with these characters for three films now, and I don’t feel like anyone has developed beyond the conclusion of the first film. Sure, it’s a sign of creative bankruptcy that they aren’t figuring out new and exciting things to do with the characters (as has been mentioned by CHUD’s own Jeremy Smith, a movie that started out as a sniping match between two rich white men doesn’t leave much room for improvement as it moves along), but even some sort of perfunctory conflict involving the main characters instead of a constant rehash of what has come previously would be an improvement.

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The school’s lack of funds led to an extremely poor rendition of Godzilla versus Mothra for their fall play.

The animation is smoother and nicer (although the humans are still frightening, I don’t know why all companies don’t opt for a slightly cartoonish looking human to avoid us pulling a Touching the Void into the uncanny valley) and it actually managed to make me chuckle twice, so there was approximately thirty plus seconds of screen time in which I wouldn’t be legally considered comatose. There are certainly less competently made films out there, but the effort here feels so phoned in that I can’t even imagine kids really being into this particular adventure. And regardless of how hard critics rail against the soulless vacumn which these continual sequelizations (continued with a Shrek Christmas special that recently aired on TV) inhabit, it won’t make much of a difference: these things are more successful than Jesus (they’ll buy their own fish and bread, thank you very much) and until the kids eating from this dicktrough grow old enough to pull a Judas we’ll be swimming in terminal ogrocity for some time to come. Still, do something more constructive with your kids than watching this, like beating them. Mildly recommended.

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Susan immediately realized that rape trees brought to life by the Necronomicon don’t take kindly to the idea of alimony.

The Package

The cover art is of the plain showcase the characters you’re familiar with variety, as is the way of most animated features these days, understandable though what with kids and recognition value and so forth. In terms of extras, it’s a pretty kid friendly disc with lots of fluffy bonus bits that should sate their appetites for mediocrity for as long as it takes for Dreamworks to dig themselves out of their mountains of cash and cocaine that this series has beget them to make yet another vapid entry in the series. You get an interactive yearbook with numerous entries from all of the mythological figures contained within the brief setting in the film (some of the more famous voice actors didn’t seem to lend their abilities to this section, though, so be forewarned). The guide to parenthood is nothing but some sound bytes from various characters while the outtakes aren’t the insipid faux animated outtakes some movies opt for and instead are just weird rough animation work. The tech of Shrek delves into how the animation techniques have advanced since the earlier movies, while Lost Scenes is my favorite feature containing pitch sequences where writers talk through their storyboards for sequences that didn’t make into the film. All of the other features are typical kids movie filler that will serve to distract for a couple extra minutes. Lots of fluffy-puff, quite frankly.

4.5 out of 10