Who's in It:
The voices of Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Larry King, John Krasinski, Ian McShane, Cheri Oteri, Regis Philbin, Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris
The Basics: Shrek's gone soft. Seriously. He used to be nastier and more ogre-ish. Now he's all family-mannish and boring. Donkey, too. He just dotes on his little dragon/donkey babies. The only one you can count on to be really nuts these days is Puss in Boots. So when it's time to save the kingdom of Far Far Away from a coup by Charming, it's less about Shrek coming in to fix things than a gang of princesses like Cinderella and Snow White and Rapunzel collectively deciding to kick a little butt.
What's the Deal? I wanted to like this more than I did. I was a big hater of the first film because I thought it was too adult for the target demo of tiny kids. (Anyone remember the sexual innuendo gags about Snow White and those seven men she lives with? I do.) Things turned around for me, though, when I saw the second one; it was less obnoxious and generally funnier and smarter all around. And now it seems like they've run out of ideas and are content to just go right for the butt-scratching jokes. It starts out funny, front-loaded with all the best bits, before settling into the let's-just-sell-more-toys phase.
What's Cool About It: Again, that would be Puss. He's become more than a sidekick, written and "drawn" with much more personality than even a lead character like Fiona. And it's also nice to hear Sedaris, who's one of my favorites, voicing Cinderella.
What's Tired: All the "Ye Olde Foot Locker" and "Versarchery" jokes. It was funny the first couple of times, the product placement that isn't exactly product placement (but still sort of is), but now it just feels like what happens when you stretch a joke with your friends past the point of making each other laugh, and you're just doing it to keep doing it.
Speaking of Selling More Toys: Maybe I'm not supposed to notice when I'm soaking in advertising. Maybe the point is to inundate us all subliminally. But I can't help but feel assaulted by the billboards and sides of buses and Happy Meals and dolls on the shelves at Target and commercials and then infomercials masquerading as bits on American Idol. It makes you feel like you don't even need to go see the movie, like it's already playing itself out for you in public.