When King Harold falls ill, Shrek and Princess Fiona become King and Queen of Far, Far Away. But Shrek wants to return to a simpler, quieter childless life in the swamp and thus goes on a quest to find the only other remaining heir to the land, a loser teenage high school boy named Artie (a nod to the legend of King Arthur).Â Meanwhile, Prince Charming has been reduced to a lowly childrens birthday stage performer. And while Shrek is away, he develops a plan with the other story-land villains to take over the kingdom.
Okay, let’s be honest. The Shrek series never had good storylines, and this has the worst yet. But like the two films before this, Shrek the Third succeeds when it is allowed to wit-fully play with and against the conventions of the fairy-tale genre. The first 20 minutes are jammed packed with three laughs a second. It’s so much, almost too much, that when the story eventually kicks in, the momentum of the film hits a slow-motion like pace (at least in comparison).
Aside from the conventional gags, the funniest moments revolve around Puss and Boots and the cast of side characters. But sometimes the film fails in its play against conventions, which is evident in this movie with a new age magic-less version of Merlin the Wizard. You can barely notice Justin Timberlake’s lack of acting chops hidden behind the animation (but trust me, it’s there), which often (like the other films in the series) appears very stiff.
But in the end, Shrek the Third will keep the children quiet for at least 90 minutes. But is it worth a trek to the local multi-plex? In the age of Amazon Unbox and Netflix, waiting for home video is probably the smarter (and more affordable option). And don’t forget, there are other options: Spidey now and Pirates 3 next week.
/Film Rating: 6 out of 10