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Monday, May 21, 2007

HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER…OR HOLLYWOOD COCKSUCKER?-SHREK THE THIRD (2007)

One of the sure signs that a series has "jumped the shark" is when the writers have pretty much run out of ideas and they think they can inject new life into moribund characters and situations by bringing babies into the mix. That said, the SHREK series has officially jumped the shark.

The original SHREK (2001) was an entertaining change of pace for animated features, leaving out the dreaded musical numbers (for the most part; that "I'm A Believer" finale was embarrassing and still gives me agita), giving us a grouch as the reluctant anti-hero, painting the world of fairy tales and legends as an anachronistic haven for lunatics, having the decency to be just-subversive enough within family-friendly story, and raising a stiff middle finger to the entire catalog of similar-but-saccharine fare from Das Uber-Disney. As such, it was a near-brilliant effort, and after raking in a gazillion bucks at the box office a sequel was inevitable.

SHREK 2 (2004) was beloved by many, however I found it unbearable but for the exception of Antonio Banderas' scene-stealing delivery as Puss In Boots; come to think of it, it was blatantly obvious that the creators had comedy gold in Puss, so why didn't they just do a retelling of his story, only from the skewed perspective found in the first SHREK? I guess that would have made too much sense...

Now we get to SHREK THE THIRD, in which Shrek and his wife, Fiona, find themselves up for the throne of Far Far Away when Fiona's dad dies, a role Shrek wants nothing to do with, instead longing to return to his fetid swamp. Discovering that Fiona's teenage cousin Artie is next in line for succession, Shrek sets off to shanghai the kid into occupying the monarchy, accompanied by Puss In Boots and Donkey, hands-down the single most irritating "comedy relief" ever — well, next to Jar-Jar Binks anyway — to say nothing of the fact that he's exactly the same character essayed by Eddie Murphy in Disney's MULAN (1998), and who needs comedy relief in a film that's already a comedy anyway? Then there's the subplot of Fiona's pregnancy and Shrek's fears about impending fatherhood, sub-sitcom-level pap that doesn't add much to the story. And don't get me started on the wholly inappropriate use of Paul McCartney's "Live and Let Die" during the dead king's funeral, especially when given the karaoke treatment by a chorus of frogs (I shit you not).

The film is a strictly by the numbers sequel with little to recommend it, and even Puss In Boots couldn't save this listless trifle. An imaginative use of Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song" and the best CGI animation in the trilogy notwithstanding, SHREK THE THIRD is feeble, definitely not worth paying full price and barely worth a look on cable, but not quite up — or is that down? — to the level of deserving the title "cocksucker." Take the kids to Blockbuster and rent them SHOGUN ASSASSIN instead.

I fucking hate the summer blockbuster season...

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