After the wretched first film, that the second was so good proved a remarkable shock: which one would the third entry most closely resemble? Well, it's somewhere in the middle. It's certainly nowhere near as irritating as the original, but has also reined in the wild, satirical inventiveness that helped make the sequel such an unexpected treat. I get the sense the creators are largely going through it by the numbers, intent on milking the cash cow for everything they can; the results are bland if inoffensive. Shrek's ogrey life is thrown into chaos when the king dies, leaving him heir apparent; rather than assume the throne, he heads off to find the next in line - who turns out to be even more relucant. Meanwhile, Prince Charming (Everett) is planning to round up all the fairy-tale villains he can find, lead them back to the kingdom of Far Far Away, stage a palace coup and kill Shrek in a particularly execrable piece of dinner theatre. It's up to Mrs. Shrek (Diaz) and her princess pals to make sure the script takes a different turn.
There was a fair amount of stabbing at society and culture in part two, along with a story that proved surprisingly genuine and heartfelt. Precious little of either here; there are minor attacks on high-school culture, but you'd find about ten times as much, and to a great deal better effect in a single episode of Buffy. The other target is likely fairy stories themselves, and there is some amusement to be had from the versions of the fairytale princesses found here, even if the neo-feminist potential is never reached. It's slickly enough put together from a technical viewpoint, but there just isn't a sense of invention or imagination, which is an essential aspect of the best animation. Some aspects don't make sense, such as the chorus of frogs at the king's funeral, singing Live and Let Die, for absolutely no reason whatsoever except, presumably, so Paul McCartney can rake in some bucks off the soundtrack royalties. It's basically the same justification for the entire movie, and barely sufficent for it to skate by.