Running Time: 93 minutes
Rated: Rated PG
First the bad news. Shrek the Third is not nearly as engaging for adults as the first and second installments were. The good news is that children seem to enjoy the continuing story of the escapades of the green slimy swamp creature.
King Harold (John Cleese) dies and leaves his kingdom to Shrek (Myers) and his daughter Fiona (Diaz). Shrek does not want to be King. He just wants to go home to the swamp with his wife.
The only way Shrek can abdicate is to find the only other legitimate heir. This turns out to be Artie (Justin Timberlake). Problem is that Artie is not up to the job. Shrek, however, has alot riding on getting him into shape to take the throne.
While Shrek goes in search of Artie and then brings him back, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) ceases the advantage and prepares to declare himself the King. Artie, Shrek, Puss-in-boots (Antonio Banderas) and Merlyn (Eric Idol) arrive in time to save the day.
It was always going to be a tall order to keep up the standards of Shrek I and II, but not even the six credited writers on this film could inject new life into the franchise.
There are 23 key fairytale characters in the story, and the idea of the "baddies" living happily ever after has potential, but this time around it all seems too forced. Apart from the still breathtaking state-of-the-art animation, the best fun for adults is the soundtrack. Composer Harry Gregson-Williams and director Chris Miller enjoy subverting scenes with hit songs from the 70s and 80s. Some of these moments are delicious.
The core value in Shrek the Third is: do you want to be a villain all your life? This opens up the possibility of conversion and amendment of life, so the film has a good moral to it. The problem is that this time parents won't enjoy the vehicle for the message as much as the kids.
Paramount Out June 7
Fr Richard Leonard is the director of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.