Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Rupert Everett, Eric Idle, Justin Timberlake, Ian McShane, John Krasinski, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Amy Sedaris, Cheri Oteri
Directed by: Chris Miller and Raman Hui
Dreamworks - Official Site of the Movie
It’s Good to be Home
Hey gang. Before getting into the review I wanted to let you know that I’m back from a wonderful week long vacation and that updates will pick up from here on out. I was completely incommunicado while I was gone so if you sent me an e-mail, expect an answer in the next couple of days. I haven’t seen 28 Weeks Later yet (came out on the day I flew out) but I hear it’s wonderful. I’ll get to it, but in the meanwhile I thought it better to focus on Spidey’s first big hurdle of the summer, Shrek 3. I’ll get back into the swing of things eventually but for now it’s just good to be back.
Shrek the Third is going to be the biggest animated movie of the year. Maybe even one of the biggest movies of the year period. Of course battling for box office between Spider-man 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End might hurt those numbers, but who are we kidding: We all love Shrek. Who can resist an all-star cast, top of the line animation, and some of the sharpest family friendly comedy going today? It’s impossible to resist. Unfortunately this talented cast and first-rate animation company has been saddled with a clunky, ineffective narrative that makes you root for the bad guys to win so that the movie might end quicker. Still, two out of three isn’t bad. But it’s just not fair. How can such a bad movie look so good?
Shrek 3, visually, is outstanding. It’s easily the best looking movie of the entire franchise if not THE best looking non-traditional, computer-animated movie in existence. You have to acknowledge the artistry of what someone like Hayao Miyazaki is able to do with the hand drawn animation process in films like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke , but you can’t deny that what’s happening within the computer animation of Shrek 3 is equally awe inspiring and impressive.
You have to remember that this is the franchise that started out with significant animation problems. In the first Shrek, a lot of care was spent on the main characters but all the humans took a back seat. They looked like pieced together, identically shaped rag dolls, with slightly different heads, flopping around with no structure. In comparison to some of the work done in Shrek 3, it’s amazing the leaps and bounds they’ve taken in individualizing even background characters, while still maintaining some semblance of the structure that was established with the humans in the first film. It’s like we’re looking at the same raggedy figures with our glasses on for the first time.
There are endless textures and surfaces to get lost in and just appreciate the technical perfection of. The movie will be rolling along, and suddenly you realize you have no idea what the characters are up to because you just spent the last three minutes admiring the stubble on Shrek’s chin or the sheen of Fiona’s hair. But is it ever a good thing when the visuals are so much better than the story that you find yourself paying attention, not to what the characters are saying, but rather what they look like as they’re saying it?
Nope. That’s never good, and that pretty much sums up the glairing problem with Shrek the Third. The movie looks better than it actually is. Literally. It’s a flawless example of modern animation and design, but doesn’t get nearly as innovative when it comes to giving these great looking creatures something to do.
The Frog King is on his deathbed and to ensure that he doesn’t have to take up the throne himself and endure a lifetime of knighting warriors and christening ships, Shrek ( Mike Myers ) has set his sights on finding the next heir to the throne of Far Far Away. Shrek is joined on his task by the usual suspects, Donkey and Puss in Boots, who quickly find the heir and proceed to waste time so that the other end of the story can develop.
Back home, a bitter Prince Charming ( Rupert Everett) gathers together the criminals, witches, and monsters of the land and uses their combined power to take over the castle. Once they have made their presence in the kingdom, Charming is able to put his master plan into effect! A play. He puts on a play. That’s his grand master plan. A play where he defeats an evil Ogre, saves the princess, and is beloved by his people. And that’s the climax of the movie. A play.
I think when I realized that the movie’s culmination was going to be a one-act play that I sort of checked out. Up until that point it had been my only hope that the drawn out and flat storytelling would at least lead to some sort of grand finale. When it didn’t I just sat back and eye-rolled my way to the credits.
What the story does right is find new ways of updating and reinventing the classic fairytales that we all know, while also combining them with some great modern music and pop culture references. This was something that bothered me in the original film, but it’s amazing how well the song Barracuda can work when it’s placed properly. The references to these great fairytales and the characters that we’ve grown to love offer up the truest laughs in the movie. The king’s extended death scene, Pinocchio’s interrogation, and pretty much anything that comes out of the Gingerbread man’s mouth will surly get a giggle out of you, even though the best moments are wasted on the previews.
The addition of a wacky Merlin (Eric Idle) and more involvement from the princesses was a welcome addition, but kind of disappointing when two characters like Donkey and Puss go completely wasted. During a magical transportation, the two characters end up switching bodies, seemingly for one joke where Donkey gives the camera Puss’ trademarked “sad cat” look. It’s plenty funny, but there’s so much that could be done with the old switcheroo gag, and that, as well as the characters, are just pushed to the back. For what? For Justin Timberlake? He’s good in this movie, but for the money they’re paying Eddie Murphy to come into the studio and say, “Who wants some waffles?” it’s a wash.
I’d like to look at Shrek the Third overall as a wash. It’s a nice little story but is far from being the type of great adventure that’s worth retelling over and over again fairytale style, let alone once. The scale is small and the story is underdone. The one consistent is the animation, which exceeds expectations and impresses throughout. It’s too good for the story it’s telling, and my one true hope for a fourth film is that even if they can’t recover with a compelling story, it’s going to look incredible. If they can make look even better still, then to be honest it won’t matter what the story is about. Shrek on the toilet will walk away with the Oscar if it they can up their game even in the slightest.
Rating: 6 out of 10 - That rating is a little harsh for a movie that delivers quite a few laughs and is as visually amazing as it is. But as good as those laughs are in Shrek 3, you’ll have to wade through an uninspired, anti-climactic story to find them. And thank God for those stunning visuals because in the scenes where a nugget of humor refuses to be found, the shocking artistry and reality of the animation is the only thing that will hold your attention at all. The rating fits the movie as a whole but also reflects my disappointment of how far they let the bar drop with this franchise. They’ve followed up a hilarious and refreshing adventure with a movie that looks the part but plays with all the enthusiasm and excitement of a rushed, padded, direct to video sequel.
Buying Shrek 3 on DVD would be doing a disservice to humanity. Ok, not really but I can’t imagine that it’s necessary to own for anyone over the age of eight. I’ve got nothing against Shrek per se. Me and him are cool, I enjoy the cast of characters and universe that is created in these films, but I don’t really feel like I need to revisit it. To be fair though, the previous two Shrek movies were handled really well on DVD. The best quality, tons of extras aimed at kids and adults alike, really nice sets that live up to what you’d expect from the biggest animated franchise ever to exist. And I’m sure you can expect more of the same from this movie, but of all the films, ample extras or not, Shrek 3 is least worthy of owning. Even in the inevitable box set, I guarantee you that Shrek the Third is the one that will get the least play.
This is a joke that evolved in part on one of the episodes of the Triple Feature. (Can’t remember which one, but listen to them all. They’re fun.) I remember discussing then but didn’t consider using it as a joke for the comic until a couple of days ago. I was spitballing some ideas in my sketchbook and wasn’t coming up with anything that really tickled me. I remembered this idea on the plane ride home and decided to try and flesh it out. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, but I’m not convinced I got the right Mike Myers quotes.
Everything Shrek says in the comic is from an actual Mike Myers character that spoke with the same accent that he uses for Shrek. Panel two features two separate lines lifted from So I Married an Axe Murderer and panel three has two lines from the character Fat Bastard in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. I spent some time trying to figure out which lines would work the best, and I’m happy with these, but I’m not convinced they’re perfect.
I’ll have to rewatch those films and figure out if there are any lines that swap in well. Lucky those two movies are both brilliantly hysterical so rewatching them should be a treat.
Switching gears… something struck me as I was inking Princess Fiona in this strip. I drew her almost exactly as I draw Rebecca from Matriculated. They have the same round face and squat pug nose. For some reason it weirded me out.
Bee Movie - A few months back confusion spread throughout movie theatres as audiences were given their first taste of Bee Movie, the first major media project for Jerry Seinfeld since is revolutionary sitcom came to an end in 1998. This trailer featured Jerry and Chris Rock as live action bugs being wiped off a windshield by a very grand in scale, but cheap in appearance, windshield wiper. Jerry the Bee left a lot of us scratching our heads. Was this movie for real or was this just a bizarre social experiment from a guy with an odd sense of humor and the resources to hire the worlds second most popular living stand-up as a day player? I mean, it was funny, but where was it going? (For both trailers, head over to the official site.)
About a month ago, live action, bee-suited Seinfeld was back, this time with Steven Spielberg as his movies director who graciously allows him to make the transition to what was the actual goal all along. Animation. We got our first images of Seinfeld as a cartoon Bee zipping through the streets of the big city and dodging falling bears of all things.
With Shrek 3 comes a full trailer that shows that Bee movie is not only officially an animated movie, but very possibly a good one. Smooth animation, crisp character designs, and a great cast list that includes not only Jerry and Rock but also Renée Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, and the king of the animated oaf himself - Patrick Warburton.
As relieved as I was to see the bones of an animated movie that could contend with the high quality that the genre is producing these days, my mind couldn’t help but wonder what kind of marvellous disaster a full length live-action bug movie would be. It might not have been Seinfeld’s greatest success, but in my experience… kids will make any pile of garbage number one for at least one week.
Last week I missed The Triple Feature but luckily there’s another one tonight! Every Monday night actually, so start circling calendars! Be sure to stop buy at 10 pm EST to listen, talk, and text with Tom, Gordon and I as we chat about Shrek 3 and other recent movie news. Did anything big happen while I was gone? I heard something about another Austin Powers movie. Is that for real?
I haven’t had a free chance to listen to the show they did without me, but I’m sure they did a fine job. I’ve been sort of dead weight for the past few episodes anyway. I’m not sure I’ve got a radio personality worth developing. I love the movie talk but I feel like excess baggage to be honest. Tune in anyway. Gordon and Tom always have a lot of fun things to say. The show has always been a great source for honest reactions to movies and movie news.
That’s it for now but I’m gearing up for Pirates 3 and if time permits I’ll be taking a look back at a couple of movies I missed recently. And there’s even more in the works. Possibly as soon as this weekend with Pirates, I’m hoping to set up some kind of chart that will last throughout the summer measuring which of the big summer sequels rank the best, which rank the worst, and which make the most money. So far it’s just Spidey and Shrek with Pirates on the horizon. But before you know it we’ll be knee deep in sequels to Ocean’s 11, Die Hard, Fantastic Four, Rush Hour, and Bourne. It’s going to be a crazy summer. See you soon.
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Joe – The creator of the strip who has embraced giving crappy movies the chance they deserve. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - The Introduction
Yeo – Yeo is Joe’s wife and often the voice of reason in the strip. Having her act rational allows the rest of the cast to embrace being in a comic strip which primarily involves randomly punching people, interacting with fictional characters and talking about boobs. Yeo is smart, beautiful and way too good for Joe. Don’t tip her off.
First Appearance - Fever Pitch
Irv – Joe’s movie-going sidekick who’s always down for watching Jason Statham crescent moon kick some thug through a plate glass window and getting some drinks before after and during a Vin Diesel movie. Like the majority of the cast he’s obsessed with boobs.
First Appearance - Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior
Agent 337 George Jones – A government Agent that took over for Joe after he was bad-mouthing President Bush in the V for Vendetta strip. George ran the show for over a month bring a much needed sense of patriotism and justice to both the strips and reviews. He eventually got too attached to his work, empathizing with Joe’s plight to give crappy movies a fair shake. In a way he came to love crappy movies as well and was pushed out of the position. He spiraled out of control and ended up in prison. His adventures will be told in the limited series JLCM Presents: 337 Locked Up which is set to début Christmas of 09.
First Appearance - V for Vendetta
Other Notable Appearances: Stay Alive, Ice age 2, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector, Slither, Here Comes Guest week, Let’s Go To Prison
Leonidas – The former king of Sparta who has traveled into the future and is having trouble coping with the modern times. Yelling loudly and kicking people into giant holes doesn’t really work the same way it did in the olden days. As time as gone by he’s adjusted but it’s a safe bet that he’s always one bad message away from throwing a spear through someone.
First Appearance - 300
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Strip# 300, The Golden Compass, Rambo, Untraceable, The Ladies of Max Paybe
Palpatine – Former Senator, Emperor of the Galactic Empire, Sith Lord... He shows up in the Joe Loves Crappy movies galaxy on occasion to let people know that they’re being stupid. No one’s really sure how he shows up in this universe but chances are it breaks all kinds of copywrite laws.
First Appearance - Episode III: The Dark Side
Other Notable Appearances: Four Brothers, Night Watch, Saw 3, Are We Done Yet
Slow Billy – Billy is a sweet kid but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. If you’re watching him for the day be prepared to explain to him the plot of the movie or how popcorn works or, not so much where babies come from, but what babies are. He’s a complete moron.
First Appearance - Four Brothers
Other Notable Appearances: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Da Vinci Code, Vantage Point, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Kyle the Movie Snob – Be careful what fun facts about movies you tell your friends at a friendly gathering or in line for the latest blockbuster, because if you’re even slightly wrong, Kyle will be more than happy to let you know. He usually gets what’s coming to him though. Poor guy has cracked three ribs since joining the JLCM cast.
First Appearance - Ultraviolet
Other Notable Appearances: 16 Blocks, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Transformers, Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jean-Luc Picard – Another lawsuit waiting to happen is Jean Luc Picard who, towards the end of the strip’s first year, became the go-to background character. If there was ever a seat to fill or a random person to place wandering around in the background, nine times out of ten it was Picard. While Picard has crossed paths with Irv he and Joe have never met. Perhaps they will some day but for now just can an eye on the background.
First Appearance - The Producers
Other Notable Appearances: I’m not telling you, that’s no fun. It’ like Where’s Waldo – go find him!
Ice Cream Sandwich – Delicious and… deadly? Usually when you see someone eating an Ice Cream sandwich, someone else is experiencing a substantial amount of pain. Still, how nice is an ice cream sandwich on a hot summer day?
First Appearance - Saw IV
Other Notable Appearances: Bee Movie, Run Fatboy Run, Saw V