Here’s the formula: ogre, who we thought had found his place, is still desperately out of place. Because he is, ogre must go on an adventure with his smart-lipped sidekicks, a cat in boots and a donkey, in order to yet again save the kingdom from Disney — err — the prince.
Things go well, things go poorly. A fart joke is made. During a sad, thoughtful moment, a song trying to be Rufus Wainwright’s "Hallelujah" plays. Find some famous people to do the characters' voices. Insert jokes for the children, insert jokes for the grown-ups. End with a moral about being yourself and conclude the whole thing with a song and dance number with the cat and the donkey.
What’s the movie?
Too easy? What gave it away? It was the Rufus Wainwright, wasn’t it?
The third Shrek, or "Shrek the Third," has the same winning formula of the first two, except this time Dreamworks forgot to insert a plot that would be interesting to anyone. After Fiona’s father, the king frog, dies, Shrek is next in line to rule Far, Far Away; but once again, all he wants to do is go back to his swamp and live out his days with Fiona. This requires Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots to go out to find Arthur (Justin Timberlake), the only other heir to the throne. Arthur happens to be a teen in high school — along with Lancelot as the school bully and Merlin as a disgraced magic teacher — and is as ill-prepared for the throne as Shrek.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, Prince Charming has overthrown Fiona, who is pregnant, in the simplest coup to ever take place. Sure it’s a children's movie, but are we to truly believe that the entire defensive system of Far, Far Away relies on Shrek and Donkey?
In the end, though, everyone learns valuable lessons ranging from "Girl Power!" to "If I believe in myself then I can do anything!"
All great lessons, but the writers of the movie don’t actually seem to believe it anymore. The entire film seems to exist to get Shrek back on the screen making jokes with Donkey and Puss and making money with McDonald's and Duracell. Most scenes are a set up for a punch line — many of which are hilarious — but they do not advance the plot, making the film feel a bit boring and forced.
The writers had jokes, movie references, a weak story and characters everyone was clamoring to see and the advertisers had money. So they put all these ingredients in a big hat, crossed their fingers, mumbled a few words about wishing they had the originality of PIXAR and handed it over to the animators who thought they were making a true Shrek movie.
Then "Poof," like one of Merlin’s semi-functioning spells, out came 500 television commercials and "Shrek the Third," a film with the same wit and humor of its predecessors — and even better animation — but none of the heart.