Magazine article The Spectator

Shrek Goes Soppy

Magazine article The Spectator

Shrek Goes Soppy

Article excerpt

Shrek the Third U, Nationwide

Oh, for heaven's sake, now they've gone and ruined Shrek, and I hate them for it. Indeed, may those responsible be damned to the eternal fires of hell.

Failing that, may they at least wake up one day with their feet on the wrong way round and an elbow for an ear. How dare they? How could they? I so loved Shrek: noisome, lousy, foul-breathed Shrek.

Shrek of the bottom-fumes so noxious they could wilt flowers. Not too far removed from your average bloke, then, but wasn't Shrek kind of lovable, too?

And cute and funny? And didn't you love Donkey? 'Parfait, parfait, everybody loves parfait.' That's Donkey from the first movie and it still makes me laugh even though I couldn't tell you why or what parfait is exactly. 'Parfait, parfait, everybody loves parfait.' Once you start saying it you just can't stop. The first two movies had heart, charm, wit, originality, parfait and, most unusually for an animation, characters you could properly care about. This, though, has very little of any of the above, and it breaks my heart.

The plot material is certainly not as strong as in the first two films, and may even be quite sloppy, although on paper it does sound fine. On paper it sounds like this: the king of Far, Far Away Land (John Cleese as a frog) dies and Shrek, it turns out, is next in line for the throne, presumably because Far Far Away does not subscribe to matriarchy, which, if I were Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz), I would certainly have something to say about, but there you are. Anyway, Shrek does not want to be king. Shrek wants only to live with Fiona in his beloved swamp. So Shrek (Mike Myers), Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Donkey (Eddie Murphy) set sail in search of Fiona's long-lost cousin Artie (Justin Timberlake). Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), jilted by Fiona for Shrek two movies ago -- Charming; get over it! -- seizes on his rival's absence to instigate a coup d'état.

On screen, though, it is less a decent story and more a compilation of vaudeville bits and bobs. There's too much farce, too much slapstick, and even a magician (Merlin, played by Eric Idle) to magic away any narrative inconsistencies.

There is also a great deal of singing, dancing and fighting, all, alas, at the expense of characters you might otherwise care about. …

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