Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2007. DreamWorks Animation, Pacific Data Images. Story by Andrew Adamson,Screenplay by Jeffrey Price, Peter S. Seaman, Chris Miller, Aron Warner, based on the book Shrek by William Steig. Produced by Aron Warner. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams. Production Design by Guillaume Aretos. Costume Design by Israel Segal. Film Editing by Mike Andrews, Joyce Arrastia.
You’d think that the pop culture references and jabs at traditional childhood fairy tales would have gotten old by the third installment, but this second sequel to the surprise 2001 hit (which was the highest critically rated film of its year) turns out be another fresh, if inevitably familiar, helping of animated genius. Shrek (Mike Myers) is dismayed when he is told that he is next in line to the throne of Far Far Away now that his Frog Prince father-in-law (John Cleese) is in poor health and has named him heir. Determined not to be forced into the rigours of monarchical life and anxious to get home to his humble swamp with his lovely wife Fiona (Cameron Diaz), Shrek sets out with trusty sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss-In-Boots (Antonio Banderas, who threatened to kick everyone off the screen in Shrek 2 and is still just as popular) to find the land’s only other living heir, Fiona’s cousin Arthur Pendragon (Justin Timberlake). While they’re gone on their quest, the long-suffering Prince Charming (Rupert Everett), now a stalwart presence in low-grade dinner theatre, is plotting to take over the kingdom with his band of fairy tale villains, while Shrek has to deal with the reality of his possible worst nightmare: Fiona is pregnant! The dialogue retains the superb high quality that has been the trademark of the series since the original, but the plot feels a lot weaker this time around; most of the laughs are pleasant chuckles and not the sharp surprises of the previous ventures, and a smug sense of anticipation on the filmmakers’ part that assumes success before it even happens is a turn-off. While the first two films stand on their own as animated classics (though one wonders how dated their humour will seem in ten years), this particular volume is more like a good filler between chapters. The new characters (which also include Eric Idle‘s Merlin) are more than welcome (though none replace Jennifer Saunders’ wickedly funny Fairy Godmother, and she is sorely missed), and the advances in technology definitely show in the astonishing animation.