Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Chris Miller, Raman Hui
Starring: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas
(PG, 92 min.)
"To seek, to strive, to find, and not to yield." Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Shrek the Third is like that Happy Meal overloaded with salt, fat, and calories. Your kids will love it, but you know better. What you see as stale jokes are endearingly familiar to the tots; creativity turned to cliché doesn’t bother them at all, and wandering story lines are not unlike their own hiking habits.
Perhaps the Shrek franchise suffers from the excellent prior films that have appealed so well to the adult and child market, my favorite being Finding Nemo, which was as much a guide to child rearing as a fish adventure and coming of age tale. It is no coincidence that Nemo has resisted the temptation to clone itself in endless sequels, choosing not to milk its brand name recognition for mega bucks and a waiting audience.
And while that waiting audience is certain to welcome back the wise cracking donkey (Eddie Murphy) and his swashbuckling companion Puss ‘n Boots (Antonio Banderas), both are sadly underused here. So instead of building on established characters, we have a parade of fractured fairy tale entries, each with a rather predictable cynical turn.
Snow White, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are medieval valley girls until they morph into female ninjas to defend the castle under siege by Charming and a cadre of malcontents from fairyland. The politically incorrect three blind mice stumble down a staircase, the gingerbread man poops a green marshmallow in his fright, and Arthur of Camelot fame is a pimply adolescent named Artie (Justin Timberlake) moody and reluctant to take the throne Shrek is intent on bestowing on him.
For you see, Fiona’s father the frog has croaked – I guess the hammy jokes are contagious – and his chosen heir Shrek is not longing for the duties of kingship, having realized that his skills do not tend toward christening ships or parading around in tight fitting kingly attire. (He tends to crush hulls with his Champaign backhand, popping buttons instead of corks when he is dolled up in royal robes.)
In probably the best scene of the film, the frog king (John Cleese) steals the show with his elongated demise, taking out a fly hovering over his soon-to-be corpse with a swift shot of his Gene Simmons tongue just before he draws his final breath.
Not only is Shrek reluctant to be king, but Fiona’s news of an imminent little Shrek unhinges the big guy as well. In his nightmare vision of fatherhood, ogrettes fall on Shrek like confetti, only they’re very much alive and teeming with nasty body excretions from both extremities of the digestive tract, to put a more delicate polish on the poop and barf sequences that so delighted my 4-year-old grandson.
On a more subtle note, Rupert Everett’s Charming is almost as beautiful as his white charger, but sadly reduced to performing at Dinner Theater, a fate almost as appalling as becoming a game show regular. And his audience is almost as unappreciative as had been the Princess Fiona, so the square-jawed jackanapes plots his revenge. To do so he rides over to the local Far Far Away local pub, orders up Fuzzy Navels for the crowd of bile-filled losers drowning their troubles there, and enlists them in his plot to take over the castle and kingdom.
What he and the likes of Captain Hook and Rumplestiltskin haven’t reckoned on are the fiercely feminist babes (Fiona, her kick butt queen and the lot), and the nerdy Artie who sings a sort of Kum Ba Yah to the dreadful villains, who we find out, really just want to share the love and raise daffodils and such.
Probably the little ones, the younger the better, will enjoy Shrek the Third as much as they did the earlier public offerings of the franchise, but I at least am somewhat disappointed in this largely inactive New Age Ogre who worries so about fatherhood, the burdens of royal rule, and intoxicates our young with the misguided notion that evil can somehow be coaxed away.
At the risk of killing off one of my grandson’s favorite Shrek the Third characters, I have chosen gingerbread men for our film recipe. I’m not sure whether it was his brave but shrill voice, or the cute little candy “poop” that the spicy cookie expels in moment of shear terror, but he was certainly a favorite. (Perhaps the fact that my little guy is in the final stages of potty training is a contributing factor.)
I certainly could not find any culinary suggestions in my other grandson’s fondest memories from the film – the dream sequence of father-to-be Shrek where he is entrapped in a house teeming with little Shreks too numerous to count. The favorite scene, of course, was when one of the little Shreks spits up, a polite way to put the sequence of projectile green vomit that covers the nightmare ravaged dad. (Too many lunch times with his baby brother, I think, lie behind this choice.)
But there, I’ve ruined your appetite already, haven’t I?
- 1 c. butter, soft
- 1 c. packed brown sugar
- 2 (4 oz.) pkgs. reg. butterscotch pudding mix
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 3 c. flour
- 3 tsp. ginger
In mixer bowl cream butter, brown sugar and pudding mix. Add eggs and beat well. Stir together other dry ingredients then stir into creamed mixture. Chill. Roll dough on floured surface 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shape. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes. Cool.
- 4 c. powdered sugar
- 4 tbsp. lemon concentrate
Mix with water to thin. Pipe on cooled cookies. Makes about sixty.
Recipe Source: Cooks.com