Danville Express

Living - May 25, 2007

Movie review: Shrek the Third - 3-1/2 stars

Rating: Rated: PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action. 1 hour, 33 minutes

Step aside, Disney. When it comes to animated adventures in the new millennium, there's only one true king. The ornery ogre brought to life by Mike Myers and DreamWorks in 2001 returns to the screen for his third outing, a fast-paced fantasy rife with witty humor and colorful characters.

"Shrek the Third" picks up where "Shrek 2" left off, as Shrek (voiced by Myers) and his wife, Fiona (Cameron Diaz), hunker down in the kingdom of Far, Far Away to help the ailing King Harold (John Cleese). But the king is on his death lily pad, and his dying wish is for Shrek to inherit the crown. It's a lofty request for a simple ogre who prefers swamp life and solitude.

The only other possible heir to the throne is Fiona's cousin Artie (Justin Timberlake), a mousy high-school student teased and taunted by the jousting jocks. Shrek and his loyal sidekicks - the chatterbox Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and suave Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) - set off to coax Artie into becoming King Arthur.

Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) encourages the villainous patrons of the Poison Apple Tavern to help him assault Far, Far Away and usurp the throne. While Shrek and company are wrestling with the angst of a troubled teen, Charming and his horde set out to invade the kingdom. And Far, Far Away's only hope may be Fiona and her princess pals (Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty).

The vocal talent here is unparalleled, from Myers' Scottish brogue for Shrek to Murphy's loquacious Donkey. And the filmmakers have added a batch of new blood to speak out for Shrek's supporting cast, including Ian McShane of HBO's "Deadwood" (as Captain Hook) and "Saturday Night Live" alum Amy Poehler (as Snow White). The only actor who doesn't fare quite as well is Timberlake, primarily because his character starts out sniveling and weak-kneed.

The fantastic soundtrack takes a cue from the previous Shrek films with both soulful and snappy tunes. Shrek's familiar friends (the Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, etc.) again serve up many of the movie's uproarious moments, including when Pinocchio desperately tries to stay honest without revealing Shrek's whereabouts to Charming.

The newest treat is Fiona's princess pack. From Sleeping Beauty's hilarious lethargy to Snow White's edgy attitude, this entertaining group deserves its own spin-off film.

The introduction of Artie draws the spotlight away from Shrek a tad too much, but the young character is incredibly relatable and adds a down-to-earth human quality to the franchise. Some of the picture's comedy may draw more yuck than yuks, such as when an eccentric wizard chews on rocks or Donkey swallows a mouthful of sea-sickness.

Still, the third time's certainly a charm for this fairytale family.

--Tyler Hanley

For more movie reviews or local show times, go to www.DanvilleWeekly.com


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