Walk around Toys “R” Us or KB Toys outlets and you will no doubt be struck by the lack of diversity offered to our children. Ninety percent of the sales items are branded to TV shows or movies. Our capitalist empire is supposed to be bringing us diversity, but what it’s ultimately bringing us is mass-marketed sameness.
At a time when there are billions of dollars of disposable income to be had, when parents will take their kid to see any family film on the weekends, all the big studios seem to be able to come up with are sequels and remakes. Blame them, blame audiences; either way it’s a depressing state of affairs.
Shrek the Third is everything that’s wrong with this system. Why do we go only to see the same exact sandwich sliced a different way? Because we’re creatures of habit and way too easy to please.
For the one or two of you out there who didn’t go see the movie, Shrek the Third opens with Shrek (Mike Myers) and lady love Fiona (Cameron Diaz) expecting their first child. At the same time, the Frog King (John Cleese), on his death bed, tells Shrek it’s either him or his long lost cousin Artie (Justin Timberlake) next in line for the crown. Shrek prefers his grimy little hole in the forest and therefore must find Arthur, Far, Far Away’s rightful king.
Meanwhile, Charming (Rupert Everett) is still bitter about not being Mr. Fiona himself and decides to band together with all of the other discarded villains from fairy tales, like the wicked witch, the evil stepsisters, etc. This part of the story is actually quite intriguing and makes one wonder whether or not it would have been a much better film if it were about these discarded villains.
While Shrek goes on his journey to bring Arthur back, Fiona bands together with her princess friends (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella) to try to escape the evil clutches of Charming, who has taken over Far, Far Away in hopes of taking the crown by force.
As usual, Antonio Banderas steals the show as Puss In Boots, and, as usual, Donkey (Eddie Murphy) has nothing more to do than to make the odd fart joke. Fellow Cleese Pythoner Eric Idle joins the cast as Merlin, which offers the film some of its most memorably funny moments.
Shrek the Third is a new low for Hollywood, a new low for sequels – pardon me, threequels, a new low for Mike Myers and most especially, a new low for the American public. The film knocked the equally awful, but not as offensively bad, Spider-Man 3 out of first place. Why? Because we all have kids and we go like lemmings to the latest animated feature.
What made the first Shrek work so well was the magic of the surprise that beauty is, indeed, in the eye of the beholder. No one expected “love’s true form” to take the shape of the ogre lady. It was such a lovely story, turning the idea of fairy tales upside down and expanding the dream to include everyone, not just the “fairest of them all.” But the sequel, and now, the threequel, have abandoned that original premise and made these new films about a checklist of gags that play like a fast food meal – same burger, same fries, same coke, different day. You get what you expect, you get what you pay for, and you leave feeling like you got what you wanted but not the least bit satisfied.
This horse has been beat to death. It’s time to let the nag rest in peace.