"Deconstructing with Heart"
SHREK THE THIRD is the best written, plotted, and developed of the blockbusting Shrek series. A fractured, deconstructionist fairy tale, Shrek still manages to have a lot of heart, affirming family, responsibility, and doing the right thing.
The movie opens with a much maligned Prince Charming relegated to playing in a second-rate stage play at a cheap dinner theater. Frustrated by the reception of his performance and the overall state of his life, he resolves to return to Far Far Away and take back the throne, which should “by rights” have been his.
Meanwhile, at the castle, Fiona’s father, the recently transfigured Frog King, is dying. In a humorously prolonged croaking scene, the king attempts to convince Shrek he would make a good leader. Shrek has no such desire. He presses the king for a way out, only to discover that there is another in line for the throne, the young teenage Arthur, who’s away at a boarding school across the sea. Shrek, Donkey and Puss-’n-Boots set sail immediately in search of the alternate heir. Before the ship edges out of sight, Fiona cries to the departing Shrek that she is pregnant. Shrek, mortified, cannot imagine being a father. He is, after all, an ogre.
While Shrek is off in search of Arthur, Prince Charming returns with a band of storybook villains to take over Far Far Away. As part of his plan, Prince Charming takes captive Fiona, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, the Queen, and one of Cinderella’s no-longer wicked, very masculine stepsisters. Far Far Away, overrun by looting and villainy, is brought completely under Charming’s control.
Meanwhile, across the sea, Shrek finds Arthur at Worchestershire boarding school, ever the loser and picked on by everyone. At first overjoyed with his newfound privilege, Arthur soon rejects Shrek’s offer, for fear of the responsibilities of kingship. In an attempt to drag Arthur back to Far Far Away by force, Shrek, Arthur, and the crew crash on an island where they meet the aged-hippy Merlin, get attacked by a musically talented Captain Hook, and are transported magically back to the fairy tale kingdom. But, do they make it in time to save the kingdom and stop Prince Charming’s villainy? Does right defeat wrong, in this deconstructed morality tale? And who, in the end, really will gain the crown?
Like each of the SHREK movies, SHREK THE THIRD walks a very thin tightrope. On one hand, it makes fun of almost everything (fairytales, fairies, emotionalism, rationalism, psychotherapy, majorities, minorities, schools, and magic), but on the other hand, it supports family, children, love, goodness, trusting your talents, and taking personal responsibility. Thus, in some strange way, although it was intended to destroy fairytales, the movie ends very much fitting the genre.
While SHREK 2 started slowly, SHREK THE THIRD is funny from the opening scene. A great deal of thought has gone into its production, and the movie is carefully layered to appeal to the old and the young, in the highest style of animated comedy. Indeed, it is quite a brilliant movie.
Some of the humor, however, is mean spirited. There are several instances in which Prince Charming and Shrek injure or kill other actors by mistake but without recrimination. This cavalier attitude toward life was disconcerting. On the other hand, there appears to be a pro-life message about having babies (go figure). There are also gender-bending jokes, which could be confusing to young minds, and, as such, Movieguide(r) urges caution. That said, this is one of the funniest, best-made movies we have seen in some time, and it deserves commendation, especially as most sequels usually are mediocre at best.
(BBB, Pa, Ro, H, O, L, V, S, N, A, DD, M) Light moral worldview dominates with family highly valued and children, love, goodness, trusting your talents, and taking personal responsibility promoted, plus a good deal of paganism, romanticism, humanism, and magic, usually in a humorous context; seven references to poop and butt, some burping and passing gas, and a couple of vomiting scenes; lots of cartoon slapstick violence and several jokes built off killing someone accidentally, which should not be funny; Shrek lies in bed naked and several references to sexual activity, but very lightweight; upper male nudity; reference to drinking at a bar; reference to smoking dope at boarding school; sloth condemned, lying condemned, rejecting parenthood condemned, and avoiding responsibility condemned, with family highly valued.
SHREK THE THIRD opens with Prince Charming acting at a dinner theater. He resolves to seize the throne. Meanwhile, Fiona’s father, the recently transfigured Frog King, is dying. The king tries to convince Shrek he would make a good king. Shrek has no such desire and discovers there is another person in line for the throne, the young Arthur, away at boarding school across the sea. Shrek, Donkey and Puss-n-Boots sail off searching for Arthur. Prince Charming arrives with a band of storybook villains. He takes over the kingdom and kidnaps Fiona and the other fairytale damsels. Can Shrek, Arthur and the rest return in time to stop this villainy?
All the SHREK movies walk a thin tightrope. On one hand, they make fun of almost everything (fairytales, fairies, majorities, minorities, schools, and magic). On the other hand, they support family, children, love, goodness, and taking responsibility. SHREK THE THIRD is funny from the opening scene. There are, however, some mean spirited and some gender-bending jokes, which could be confusing to children, so MOVIEGUIDE® urges caution. That said, this is one of the funniest, best-made movies in some time.