Shrek the Third (PG)
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Well, I've seen the first two movies, which I suppose I liked better than this one. But at the time of this review, I haven't yet... written reviews for them. Still need to get them on DVD eventually. I got this DVD because I hadn't caught the film in the theater, and I wanted to see it before the Shrek the Halls TV Christmas special. Anyway, even if this wasn't the best entry in the franchise (that honor still goes to the first movie), that's not to say it wasn't still pretty entertaining.
It starts with Prince Charming doing bad dinner theater, playing to a mocking crowd. You'll recall he was thwarted in his villainous intentions in the second film. Well, he's fed up with the sorry state he's been reduced to, and wants to achieve his own happily ever after... but that comes later. First, we see Shrek and Fiona getting a taste of performing royal duties while Fiona's father, King Harold, is sick. It doesn't really suit them, especially not Shrek, which makes it all the worse when it turns out Harold is dying, and Shrek is next in line to take the throne. However, there is one other living heir: Arthur Pendragon. So Shrek sets out with Donkey and Puss in Boots to find him and bring him back to Far Far Away.
Well, just as they're departing, Shrek learns Fiona is pregnant, and he's majorly stressed about impending fatherhood. Then they get to the high school where they'll find Arthur (or Artie), who is a loser that all the other kids pick on. He's happy at first to learn he'll be king, as he's looking forward to sticking it to all the kids at school. But before long he decides he doesn't want to be king, after all. Which gives Shrek a chance to test his parenting skills in talking to the boy. Oh, and then there's an appearance by Mr. Merlin, a former magic teacher at Artie's school, who's had a nervous breakdown. I don't really know what to say about him except that he's voiced by Eric Idle.
Meanwhile, Charming recruits just about every fairy tale villain you've ever heard of, from Captain Hook to talking trees, to join him in an assault on the Kingdom of Far Far Away, to claim the crown for himself. They attack in the middle of Fiona's baby shower, which includes other fairy tale heroines Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Rapunzel, along with Fiona's mother, Queen Lillian. Oh, and an ugly stepsister named Mabel (voiced by Regis Philbin, though I didn't recognize his voice, I just thought she sounded like Dr. Girlfriend from Venture Bros.) suddenly showed up out of nowhere. We'd previously seen her talking with Charming when he recruited the villains, so I figured she must be secretly working for him as a mole or whatever. But nothing like that ever happened. The only reason I can imagine for her being there is as a red herring, to distract us from the real traitor (which I won't spoil), but I must say neither Mabel not being evil, nor the traitor turning on her friends, made any sense to me at all.
In any event, the women were all locked away, but they didn't just wait for Shrek or anyone to rescue them. They made their own escape, which was pretty cool. One of my favorite moments in the movie was Snow White's singing scene, particularly when the song suddenly changed to the war cry from Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song." Meanwhile, of course, Shrek and company return to Far Far Away, get captured, and... sigh. I dunno.
Lots of stuff happened, it seems, and though I just watched the movie like a couple hours ago, already I'm forgetting details and the order of events. And not all of it was entirely worth mentioning anyway, plus I don't want to spoil too much. But there's like... the whole climactic battle, plenty of excitement, and plenty of humor throughout the movie. Lessons for Shrek to learn, and for Arthur to learn. And lessons for all the villains to learn (save Charming, of course). I kind of liked how the conflict was resolved. Not entirely original, but not particularly common, either. It was alright. I did feel slightly sorry for Charming, and I saw some similarity between him and... well, pretty much every character in the film. It's a shame he's the only one missing out on redemption and receiving nothing but constant mockery, but whatever. I suppose he got what he deserved.
And of course, in the end, there are ogre babies. It looked to me like there were a bunch of them (though not nearly as many as in a nightmare Shrek had earlier), but actually there were only three. And then of course over the closing credits Donkey and Puss did a song which was a neat little allusion to a minor plot point which I haven't mentioned....
And that's pretty much all I can think to say, except for speculation about the title. Why not just call it Shrek 3? I thought before I saw it that he'd have one kid, and it would turn out Shrek himself was actually a "Junior," but no. After seeing it I wondered if it might be because he had three babies, but that still doesn't make sense. Maybe it was just about kings having numbers after their names, but it's not like there weren't kings in the other movies. Maybe it was supposed to sound Shakespearean, or even be a reference to some play I've never read. Or, maybe it's a reference to Blackadder the Third, for all I know, which makes sense if you consider the next movie is to be called "Shrek Goes Fourth" (Or at least it was supposed to be, but that movie's title was changed before it came out.)