Saturday, June 9, 2007

Formula Shrek

Sequels to animated movies have not had the best record. Disney have tried with virtually all of their offerings although I must admit that I found the Peter Pan follow-up quite good. Pixar had success with Toy Story 2 but others, even when successful in the box office, have not generally been worthwhile. Given that spate of poor third movies this summer, I wasn't going into Shrek The Third with high expectations.

I am pleased to report that it surpassed them easily. Indeed, I liked it just as much as the previous ones although the plot didn't have the majesty of the first. When it comes down to it, Shrek is a winning formula. Great characters, a solid setting and a raft of in-jokes that make the movie far more appealing to adults than children; although the latter have a good time regardless.

This time around, the throne of Far Far Away is vacated (in what has to be the funniest death scene ever in a childrens movie). Shrek is next in line for the throne -- although why it isn't Fiona I don't know (that is a values weakness that was absent from the first movie). Anyhow, it makes the plot work because the rest of the movie is about Shrek finding any way he can to not take on Kingly responsibility and indeed fatherly responsibilities too. His expedition is to find another relative, Arthur, who can take the throne. Arthur is an unpopular teenager and himself shows reluctance to take on the role. Meanwhile, Prince Charming (who lost out in the last movie) stages a coup with the help of fairy tale villains. All this leads to an inevitable final battle and a few songs.

This time around it is the minor characters that shine more. The raft of princesses (including a narcoleptic Sleeping Beauty and an animal controlling Snow White) and villains (a piano playing Hook) add lots of colour and receive the most laughs (from adults). Although, be warned, this movie will provoke interesting discussions with children later on over what sort of offspring a donkey and dragon might be expected to have in reality. Well I guess fairy tales are supposed to be mind opening.