3 Stars - Wholesome
The third tale of the ogre Shrek (voice by Mike Myers) continues the wholesome moral message that we should each one be true to who we really are. However in this third tale, the emphasis is not only on accepting ourselves but also rejecting the villainous labels and roles that others place upon us. Thus the villains of fairytale fame decide to be good and protect life rather than choosing to be evil and causing death. This is seen directly when the infamous Captain Hook (voice by Ian McShane) explains that his true self raises daffodils rather than destroys lost princes. Created by the amazing artists and technicians at DreamWorks, this third chapter of the story continues with their ingenious blend of humor for adults and lessons for children.
This third film assumes that you've seen the previous two. Unlike Spider-Man 3 which gives a visual reminder of the tale by introducing images of the first two films, DreamWorks simply turns the page to the third chapter and assumes you've been reading with them. For example, as you now see fire-breathing flying donkeys, you would need to know that in the first film, the Donkey (voice by Eddie Murphy) was the lover of the dragon that was guarding Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). You also need to know that King Harold (voice by John Cleese) was actually a frog who Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) kissed to bring into human form. This explains how the beautiful queen is now grieving over him as he has now returned to his amphibian form in his sick and dying state. You also need to know that Prince Charming (voice by Rupert Everett) is not the hero of Cinderella (voice by Amy Sedaris) fame, but he is the son of a deranged Fairy God-mother whose sole purpose was to make him King of "Far, Far Away." And you must also know that Shrek and Princess Fiona chose their love for one another rather than the lure of wealth, beauty and power.
The three amigos of earlier fame are still central to the tale. On one side of Shrek is Donkey's unswerving loyalty and on the other side is the feline swordsman Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), whose courage and charm serve him well. New to the story is another heir to the throne whose name is Arthur (voice by Justin Timberlake) and "Artie's" struggle with Lancelot (voice by John Kransinski) in their medieval high school provides identifiable angst and universal humor.
Though we won't spoil this third chapter by giving away the plot, the moral lessons are easily identifiable: There is good in the worst of us and bad in the best of us. There is hope for a kingdom where the leadership calls us to be our best selves rather than our vengeful worst. The struggle over power is as much a struggle for recognition and esteem as it is for self-aggrandizement and control. And the choices we make at every point in our individual and shared journeys not only impact us but those who love and care for us as well. These lessons make the ongoing saga of SHREK a tale to enjoy.
- The aversion that Shrek has to being King of Far, Far Away is based on his pleasure of the lower rather than the higher things in life. Do you identify with Shrek or not? What has this meant for how you've lived your life?
- The nightmare that Shrek has about becoming a father is similar to his fear about being King. It is when he meets Arthur and reaches out to him in his fears that Shrek is given a handle on his own. How do you deal with your fears about your relationships and your fears about your work? Where do you turn for help? What or who has helped you get a grip on your inner life?
- The betrayal of Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) demonstrates the ability of good people to make bad choices. Why do you believe she did so in this tale? Have you ever betrayed someone? Why did you do so and how did you repair the damage you caused?
- The ability of Arthur to pull the best out of his people demonstrates true moral and political leadership. Do you see such leadership in the world today?