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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Saturday Movie: Shrek the Third

This past Saturday was a yucky, rainy day. The kids were whining there was nothing to do. Sure we have games. We have books. We have toys. We have fun music. They could pick up toys. Or better yet, pick up their room. Still. The children insisted there was nothing to do.

My husband and I finally had enough and decided to change everyone's mood. Time to take the girls to see the movie Shrek the Third. You can view the movie trailer here. The kids were so excited and to be honest, I was looking forward to it too. I loved the first two movies. Yes, there's some gross humor, but still, these movies were laugh out loud funny. And when you think about how the screenwriters tweaked all the Happily Ever After tales to create these entertaining movies, it is simply fascinating. To me anyway. So I was expecting big things for the third movie. Warning: There are some spoilers here...

And I was so disappointed. You know the feeling. When you're reading a really good book series and the next book just doesn't cut it. You're off kilter because you were anticipating so much more. I'm not going to name names. You know what I'm talking about.

Don't get me wrong. Shrek the Third is funny. Shrek, Donkey and Puss are still up to their hysterical antics. Shrek and Fiona are still lovey dovey. We get comic glimpses of Pinocchio, the Gingerbread Boy, the Three Little Pigs, and the Big Bad Wolf. And Charming, poor self absorbed Charming, who lost out to Shrek for Fiona's hand...he made quite an interesting bad guy.

Girl Power is so evident in this movie. The Disney Princesses -- Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty -- are first depicted as spoiled, selfish gals. And this worked. It was amusing. After some trouble, they end up teaming together with Fiona and the Queen to seriously kick some major butt. Awesome.

So you're asking, what was the problem? What was the problem? The problem, my friends, was the introduction of one of my favorite childhood stories...of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I was really excited when I realized this storyline would come into play, but as it went on, I found it so disappointing and lacking in substance. I know the screenwriters were trying to have some fun with these new characters--Arthur, Lance, Gwen and Merlin--but it didn't work for me.

The movie is cute, but, the first and second movies are so much better. And it made me crave some books about King Arthur and the Knights. So when I went to the library today, I discovered these books. I'm going to read these to my girls, so they can properly fall in love with Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin, and the rest of the gang:

The Sword and the Circle by Rosemary Sutcliff
Arthur, High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo
Excalibur by Hudson Talbott
Lancelot by Hudson Talbott
Wizardology, The Book of the Secrets of Merlin by Master Merlin and Dugald Steer

Any other suggestions?


Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I just figured that Shrek 3 would be about Shrek's and Fiona's forays into parenthood. It makes sense: Shrek was about Shrek, Shrek 2 was about the marriage, Shrek 3... why not about their child? There could have been a plethora of diaper-jokes to fill out the potty-humor requirements. The writers/producers missed out on a poetic opportunity here.

I'll wait for video, I guess.

HipWriterMama said...

Oh they did introduce parenthood. I didn't mention it because I figured I'd reveal too much. Heh, heh.

But since you mentioned it first, yes, Shrek the Third introduces parenthood as a side story. Definitely funny. But, the jokes got a little old because it wasn't anything new.

You know how some funny tv sitcoms are hysterical while the characters are all single, or just couples (married or unmarried)? The storyline concentrates on the characters, and there is so much that can be done with it.

But once the marriage jokes or baby jokes are introduced, the sitcom is still funny, but loses its comedic edge because they always go for the old standbys. Then the show fizzles out.

Or maybe its when the sitcom is finally ending, the marriage and baby scenarios are added in, to give a touch of doomed finality.

There are only so many marriage and baby jokes out there that make for hysterical entertainment. After that, its just degrading humor for something that is such hard work and should be respected.

Holly Doe said...

I had the same feelings about Shrek 3. Just not as good as the others. As for a King Arthur recommendation, we really liked Merlin and the Making of the King retold by Margaret Hodges and beautifully illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. I believe it was one her last books she illustrated before her death. We also went in search of Arthur books when we were reading the Magic Treehouse series since Morgan Lefay was introduced in book 4.

PJ Hoover said...

We've been meaning to get to the theater to see this. But then there's Spiderman 3 also on our list. Given the 2-1/2 year old, I think Shrek will better hold her attention. Maybe we'll hit it this weekend.
And good suggestion! I think my son would love to hear stories of King Arthur and the knights. Are any of the books you mentioned easy readers for 6 year olds? I'd bet they have one somewhere, and if not, then someone needs to write it!

Kimberly/lectitans said...

I was spared disappointment in this one by keeping an awareness of the reviews. I like to hit rottentomatoes.com and take a look at the percentage of good vs. bad reviews a movie is getting. I don't read the reviews themselves, just take a glance at the number. That way, I go in knowing what to expect, and am usually pleasantly surprised. That happened with Shrek the Third; I was all "This is going to be garbage," and was nicely surprised to discover it was fun. Just not nearly as good as the first two.

Re: the Girl Power bits, I so wish they'd done more with that. It could've been a much bigger thing, and more interesting than cheap high school jokes. (That's where they really let the Arthur story down, I think; making it another high school story.)

MyUtopia said...

Thanks for the review of Shrek, I think I will wait until I can get it on Netflix

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I'll go check it out. We love the Magic Tree House series over here too.

- - - -

My 3 year old was amused with Shrek the Third. She only had to leave the theater once for a potty break.

I'll look through these books and let you know what works for a 6 year old. At a quick glance, the two books Lancelot and Excalibur by Hudson Talbott are more picture books, but you would most likely need to read to your 6 year old.

Be forewarned, there are a few gory pictures with jousting and blood, so depending out what your 6 year old's capacity for this sort of thing, just be careful.

- - - - -

That's a good idea with the rottentomatoes website. We don't get out much to see movies, so this would be good to check out first.

You hit the nail on the head with the "cheap high school jokes" observation. It really bothered me.

Then I felt like they left me hanging...you get a taste of the Arthur "court" but then only Arthur goes forward in the story. I wanted to see Merlin zap Lance and the gang into the castle to fight for the Happily Ever After cause. It would have added some pizzazz. But they're probably leaving it for the next movie.

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

I think there are lots of humorous moments in marriage and family, but perhaps they translate better to print than to screen. Thus far, I'm 1/2 way into one of the essays for Stop Dressing Your Six Year Old Like a Skank and it's non-stop funny, albeit in a painful way. I guess I'm imagining Shrek, Fiona and wee baby going to DisneyLand and being outraged over the price of the 17 dollar hamburger.

HipWriterMama said...

My Utopia,
Definitely worth watching when you're ready.

- - - - -

I just picked up that same book from the library based on Mother Reader's review! It sounds so funny.

Christine M said...

I've tagged you for a meme.

Erin said...

Gerald Morris has some great children's/YA Arthurian historical fiction. You should check his work out!