"Shrek the Third" opens on a sinister musical note. Prince Charming (voiced by Rupert Everett) is grieving the loss of his mother and his poor circumstances. The Prince felt that he was heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Far Far Away. Instead Shrek (Mike Meyers) and his pals disrupted the coronation and now Charming is living grumpily ever after.
Not much has changed for Shrek and his wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz) since we last saw them. While the Frog King (John Cleese) is ill, Shrek and Fiona have been named temporary rulers of the kingdom of Far, Far Away. Since they are both ogres and lack public administration certification, Shrek seeks another heir to the throne. The green guy recruits his sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss ‘n Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find pauper Artie (Justin Timberlake), who does not know he is a prince. With Shrek away, the distraught Prince Charming seizes this opportunity and overthrows the temporary government.
If this plot sounds boring, then even the animated characters seem bored by the narrative. Not since "102 Dalmatians" have I witnessed the boredom of children at an opening kiddie matinee. Usually a film like **Shrek the Third** features a fast pace narrative that one misses the details of the background shots that feature clever gags. The storyline for "Shrek the Third" is so drawn out that one starts to count the mise en scene in this movie. One misses the spontaneous feeling of the first "Shrek" a mere six years ago.
Even the animated characters seemed bored by the movie. Shrek, Donkey, Puss ‘n Boots and Fiona feel weighted down by their domestic responsibilities. One feels more empathy for the villains who have been defeated by their inability to live happily ever after. When the villains take over the kingdom, one would rather party with Captain Hook and the Headless Horseman. Shrek is no longer rough around the edges like he used to be, he is now a Hollywood mogul who plays it safe.
"Shrek the Third" is the first "Shrek" movie since the DreamWorks/Paramount and the franchise does feel sanitized. There were double entendre moments in the first movie that worked on both a child and an adult level. I have often wondered what a child of 2001 would think of their parents when reviewing the original "Shrek" in 2011. What was once outrageous is now timid.
There will be sequels to "Shrek" and "Puss ‘n Boots" is being courted for a spin-off. Yet one feels weary of marketing that is not living up to its hype or history.