Third Time, Less Charming

Oh, dear, Donkey just crapped on the scriptThe Curse of the Threequel whacked the web-head earlier this month, and now it goes after the grumpy green ogre: “Shrek the Third” kind of stinks.

Hey, I’m not happy about it. I’m very fond of the first one, and loved the second, but the newest film feels entirely unnecessary, as though DreamWorks/PDI (and now, Paramount) is so desperate to have a viable franchise that they’re forcing the concept further than it can comfortably go.

Freshness? Originality? Why bother? It’s much easier to just repeat jokes from the previous movies, and once you’re doing that, you might as well pretend the characters haven’t evolved or developed in any significant way since the series started.

New characters? Yeah, we’ll introduce a lot of them, and have them voiced by such genuine talents as Amy Poehler, Amy Sedaris, Maya Rudolph, Cheri Oteri, John Krasinski and Justin Timberlake, but only Timberlake’s Artie matters to the story, and he doesn’t get a single laugh.

But hey, thanks to a new HP software innovation thingie, Shrek’s facial expressions are way more detailed! Although now his features seem too big for his face, and his eyes are weirdly shiny, and that kinda creeps me out.

Look, it’s not all bad: A plot point that has Donkey and Puss briefly switching bodies generates some solid laughs, but it takes more than an hour to get there. I found my mind wandering back to the earlier films, and thinking about how they were never, ever sluggish or boring. This one, not so much.

Perhaps you’d like to see something else this weekend? Here are your choices:

Close to Home“: Directors Vidi Bilu and Dalia Hagar take a look at everyday life in the Israeli military in this intriguing drama, which follows two relatively untested young women (Smadar Sayar and Neama Shandar) as they sulk and argue their way around a sector of Jerusalem on patrol. You’d think there can only be one way for this story to go, and it sort of does go there, but not in a predictable manner; instead, it’s just a nicely observed, moderately inventive character study.

Paris, Je T’Aime“: Eighteen filmmakers think about Paris for a couple of hours in this lovely little collection of vignettes. I could happily sit through this again, right away, which is something I don’t think I’ve said about too many movies this year. Well, there was “Hot Fuzz“, but that’s a no-brainer; that one demands a second viewing, just to bask in the insane construction of the script.

2:37“: Actually, don’t see this one. A pretentious and shameless issue picture about teenage suicide (Don’t Do It!) from writer-director Mirali K. Thalluri, this is a naive movie in every sense of the word. “But he was only twenty when he made it!” wheedle his defenders. “And he attempted suicide himself once! Can’t you cut him a break?”

Dude, I gave it two stars …

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