Heir Unapparent

070528_r16259_p465.jpgAs the cinematic summer rolls on, we have the latest installment of the Shrek series. As a fan of the first two films, I looked forward to more of their all-ages humor. Unfortunately, that’s just what Shrek the Third offers.

In the latest edition, the king of Far Far Away dies and on his deathbed tells Shrek that he must take the throne. In a Moses-esque protest, Shrek begs the king to name another heir. With his last breath, the king says, “Arthur.” To avoid the responsibilities and fashion constraints of kingship, Shrek quickly sets out on a voyage with Donkey and Puss to find Arthur. Meanwhile, Prince Charming unites a group of fairy-tale villains to mount an attack on the kingdom of Far Far Away to claim the respect, attention, and power which they feel is rightfully theirs. Shrek, Donkey, and Puss ultimately find Arthur in Worcestershire High School. Arthur unfortunately seems an even less-likely king than Shrek. However, after some convincing, they manage to return to Far Far Away and stop Prince Charming and his crew from taking over the kingdom.

Shrek the Third is not a terrible film as it provides more of the same humor that made the first two films so successful. However, this is also its greatest weakness. Rather than offering up something new or advancing the story, Shrek the Third plays it safe and re-hashes many well-worn jokes. The trip to Worcestershire High School was quite entertaining, however, and provided one of the few bright spots in the film. While not exploited enough, the supporting cast, especially the Three Little Pigs and the Gingerbread Man, added several funny moments as well.

Shrek the Third‘s “moral lesson” is quite heavy-handed as the film tells rather than shows (no doubt due to it being a “kid’s film”). Yet its lesson is still one that kids need to hear and of which some adults might need to be reminded…you can be anything you want and take care that your fears and insecurities do not stand in the way. Adults, however, will roll their eyes, knowing full well that we are not the only things that stand in our way to success, peace, happiness, etc. In the end, wait for Shrek the Third on DVD, and in the meantime, revisit the first two.