It seems to be a summer of thirds. Spider-Man. Pirates of the bloody Caribbean. And now Shrek.. When Shrek first emerged it surprised us with its smart little digs at popular culture, adult humour mixed with child-friendly fun and nice messages about being yourself. The second film built on the first, with extra celebrities, some more nice messages about being yourself, and a giant gingerbread man. Number three sees Shrek worrying about entering fatherhood, another quest type adventure. And some nice messages about being yourself.
This time, as well as baby-fear, Shrek must find the rightful king of Never Never Land, while dealing with Prince Charming harbouring a bit of a grudge. As with the previous films there are some neat little pieces. A trip to a ye olde university is done with a wry smile, and there’s a nod to the ‘WAG’ culture with a gaggle of catty princesses.
Laughs can certainly be found, but they are a little more isolated than usual. Indeed, the whole film feels very familiar, but sort of empty. It’s like they knew they had the formula right, so there was no further effort put in. The plot and jokes seem to be going through the motions. Silly things happen just for the sake of it (Donkey and Puss-in-Boots swapping bodies, for very little reason and very little effect) and less time is spent with the fun ensemble of fairytale characters.. The whole film feels a bit like my attitude when trying to park in a small space at Tesco. It’s all pretty much in there, so sod it - that’ll do.
Not that it isn’t still entertaining and fun. You can watch with a smile throughout, and any film that has a gingerbread man shit a jelly-tot in fright wins stars in my book. But low marks for effort. We know they can do much better (although I’m aware some people hate Shrek’s green guts…) Shrek doesn’t get any extra CF points, and almost loses one for being a little vacuous ( the fact I can’t find anything else to write about must demonstrate this). But for being entertaining, with enough laughs to have me leave with a smile, Shrek scrapes in a CF0. Really, though, the last few films have had such low ratings I’m dying for something half decent. Is that a bald man in a vest I spy…