‘Shrek the Third’ is fun, despite the cranky critics

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Ever get the feeling that the snarky old film critics and you are seeing two different movies? That’s exactly how I felt after enjoying “Shrek the Third,” then reading some of the reviews.

Wow, are these people picky!

Maybe it’s just that I go to movies expecting to be entertained, and they go to movies to either A) be enlightened, or B) pick up a paycheck. Most of them seemed to get a bee stuck in their bloomers because Shrek himself didn’t act more ogreish. I agree, the original ogre, based on the character in the totally wonderful William Steig book, was a big old green grump, meaner than my third-grade teacher and given to bashing in the heads of cute little forest creatures for no apparent reason. So what if, in this third installment of the franchise, he turns up happily married and mellowed out a bit? Marriage’ll do that for ya.

And his pals, Donkey and Puss in Boots, are now living, also quite cheerfully, in the castle and also seem to have settled down. Donkey’s married his adorable dragon girlfriend (and is the proud father of four little donk-gons. Or maybe drag-eys). And we lucky viewers are welcomed in like old friends, to spend a little time with old acquaintances, ne’er to be forgotten. Pinocchio is there, and that cool little cookie dude, and those hilarious three little Bavarian pigs – everyone we’ve grown to enjoy over the first two films. What’s not to like?

But Shrek’s dad-in-law, the Frog King, croaks – and instead of having to take over the role of king himself, Shrek and his two closest pals set out to bring back the next heir to the throne, Arthur Pendragon. Well, from then on it’s pretty much a search-and-recover plot, complicated by that gnarly Prince Charming trying to take over the throne in Shrek’s absence.

But let’s face it: Who really cares much about the plot in a Shrek movie? We are, and have been, totally charmed by these fabulous animated critters articulated by Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy, Antonio Banderas and a veritable host of guest-voices, and they no longer need to prove their screen cred.

If you believe most of the critics, it’s no fun at all. But I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a cuter satire of American Dream High School Life than when Shrek and his buds arrive in the land of Worchestershire to grab young Arthur (voice: Justin Timberlake) to help them save the day. I won’t elaborate; don’t want to spoil the fun for those of you who have high-school age offspring. But believe me, you’ll enjoy it.

Frankly, I don’t expect every summer 2007 blockbuster to be as enjoyable as “Shrek the Third.” So, while trudging across these arid Dog Day months, let us drink deeply at whatever water holes we stumble across.

Meanwhile, Back at the Dixie:

John Wayne would have been 100 years old next Saturday, so to commemorate the big guy (and Memorial Day as well), the Dixie is running a week-long John Wayne Film Festival beginning today. Included in the films will be two of his greatest, “Stagecoach” and “Red River,” and will conclude with a big bash birthday party on Saturday, and a showing of “The Quiet Man.” And don’t forget, Pilgrim, the best John Wayne look-alike wins a prize.

 

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The New Dominion. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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