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DreamWorks presents
Shrek the Third (2007)

"Our client cannot get into his proper emotional state without his jalapeño honey butter!"
- Donkey (Eddie Murphy)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: November 27, 2007

Stars: Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Justin Timberlake, Julie Andrews
Director: Chris Miller

MPAA Rating: PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action
Run Time: 01h:32m:35s
Release Date: November 13, 2007
UPC: 097361179247
Genre: animation


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BAA- B+

DVD Review

You can't really fault DreamWorks for wanting to give us more of the same with this third incarnation of the Shrek franchise, and generally this is a pretty pleasing piece of work, especially for the little folks in whom an insatiable appetite for all things Shrek has been ginned up a couple of times before. And really, there's nothing wrong with Shrek the Third—it's reasonably entertaining, while not condescending to kids nor infuriating their caregivers. Any misgivings about the movie would be identical to those of any sequel, I suppose—the giddy sense of discovery that the first movie brought can't be recovered, and the kick of the DreamWorks animators clowning around and mixing it up with a hodgepodge of familiar fairy tale characters and expectations has now just become part of the formula. It's certainly a perfectly fine way to while away the time, even if it can't recapture the anarchic, upending spirit of the original.

Our friends are moving down the path of life, and a funny sort of domesticity has settled over the gang. Fiona has embraced her inner and outer ogre, and her parents, the King and Queen of Far, Far Away, have come to respect her choices, and have even developed a begrudging fondness for their son-in-law, Shrek. Curiously enough, though, the character who has glided most easily into adulthood is Donkey, the hyperactive burro given voice by Eddie Murphy. My biggest problem with the film, in fact, is that there's not enough Donkey—in a Shrek movie, I don't think you can ever have enough Donkey—and you almost get the sense that both the writers and Murphy and the other voice-over actors might be phoning it in a little bit. There are a number of reaction shots of Donkey, in fact, in which we've been conditioned to expect a kicker of a joke, and get little more than "Oh!" or "look out!" Antonio Banderas as Puss has even less to do; and only marginally closer to the center of the action is Cameron Diaz as Fiona, though a sequence with her and a sorority of self-empowering princesses is one of the best things here. (Loopily enough, Cinderella's wicked stepsisters are given voice by Larry King and Regis Philbin.)

But back to our story: as Princess Fiona's father lies dying, he needs an heir; and things are still sufficiently patriarchal that neither his wife nor his daughter is considered appropriate monarchical material. Shrek wants to get back to the swamp and out of the palace, so a new king must be found—and the only candidate is a geeky kid at Worcestershire High called Artie. So yes, we get the Camelot story filtered through the Shrek prism, with Arthur as a bit of a dork (even if voiced by Justin Timberlake), Lancelot the swollen-headed captain of the jousting team, Guinevere as the hipper-than-thou girl with a crush on Lance, and Merlin as a daffy retired high school teacher. It's amusing, but not riotously hilarious—there's more fun to be had with other fairy tale favorites, like a dissembling Pinocchio, a Teutonic set of three little pigs, and a snarky little Gingerbread Man.

Mike Myers as Shrek seems to be having the best time, and there are plenty of odd little ideas in here, like extended dream sequences for animated characters; Shrek must also joust with the evil Prince Charming, who attempts to round up all the fairy tale bad folk (Captain Hook, the Wicked Witch of the West, Rumpelstiltskin, and so on), though we know that he's way too into musical theater to triumph in a story like this. (Rupert Everett is a pip, even if he's not as prominent here as we was in the second outing; his Charming reduced to performing in dinner theater gives an almost tragic dimension to his epic self-delusion.) A concluding sequence, in which the stork finally does pay a visit to the Shrek household, suggests that we're not done with the franchise yet, though my vote would be for a prequel along the lines of "Donkey: The Early Years."

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - P&S
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: A bright and saturated transfer—it's filmgoing heresy to say so, I know, but these movies actually look better on DVD than during their theatrical releases.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes


Audio Transfer Review: Either the 2.0 or 5.1 track will be fine; without question, the movie loses something in the French.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bee Movie, Kung Fu Panda, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Shrek, Shrek 2
3 Deleted Scenes
5 Featurette(s)
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. games, jukebox, other fun stuff (see below)
Extras Review: Nothing too fantastically elaborate in the extras package, but some good time wasters here. Under the menu heading DreamWorks Kids, you'll find Merlin's Magic Crystal Ball, the latest DVD incarnation of the old magic 8 ball; along with How to Be Green (3m:59s), eco-friendly ideas for kids from everybody's favorite ogre. And we can dance if we want to, we can leave your friends behind: Learn the Donkey Dance (1m:39s) is a riff on that legendary 80s band, Men Without Hats.

A Worcestershire Academy Yearbook features 10 jokey entries for Artie and his high school classmates—more of an idea for a joke than an actual series of jokes, alas. More interesting is Big Green Goofs (1m:56s), not for errors but for its look at the animation process, something dealt with a bit more substantially in Tech of Shrek (9m:54s), which interviews everybody at DreamWorks from Jeffrey Katzenberg on down, about the evolution of animation over the course of the Shrek movies. A package (18m:22s) of three "lost" scenes are less interesting as story, and worth watching mostly for its look into the world of pitching and storyboards, and the animating sense of friendly competition among the filmmakers.

You can also Meet the Cast (10m:39s), as Myers, Diaz, Banderas, Murphy and Timberlake are all interviewed; and get child-rearing tips from the likes of Donkey and Puss in Shrek's Guide to Parenthood. A DreamWorks Animation Video Jukebox features musical numbers from six other features—the ones likely to get the most play are the finales from the previous two movies in this series, with Murphy singing lead on I'm a Believer, and joined by Banderas on Livin' La Vida Loca. (Puss and Donkey, y'all.) And there's a raft of DVD-ROM content, including a chance to play editor with Shrek Shmash Ups, games to play in a Shrek Royal Tournament, stuff to color and print out, and links to official sites for the movie.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

A sturdy if unspectacular entry in this durable franchise, with artful animation, old friends, and just enough good humor to pull us along for an hour and a half.

 


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