As lovers of all things ogre, we joyously rode the mcdonald's marketing juggernaut all week. Sipping diet coke from slime-green soda straws and creating disjointed dialogue between talking Shrek, Donkey and Gingy happy meal toys only served to froth my little family into a festering frenzy by the time we hit the theater Friday night for the premiere of Shrek the Third.
The film opens with Prince Charming playing himself in a dinner theater re-enactment of fighting brutal winds, blistering deserts and climbing to the tallest room in the highest tower, only to have his happily ever snatched by a roaring green ogre. He vows to smite (or is it smote?) his odious archenemy and reclaim his rightful place on the throne. Meanwhile, back at the castle, King Henry, still in his natural state as a toad (see Shrek 2), is on his death-lily pad, his family by his waterside. With his final fly-snatch he reveals that other than Shrek, there is but one heir to the Far Far Away thrown, a dude named Arthur. Go figure. Thus, the stage is set for a swashbuckling, burping, farting, butt-scratching adventure. My kids gave it a two bottoms up. I experienced an adventure on and off screen, as the singular experience of sitting with my children in a movie theater has, thus far, been reserved mostly for the enjoyment of their grandparents.
A darkened theater, Dolby surround sound, crunching on $6 popcorn – it's all part of the fun of going to the picture show, as Grandma Bowers used to say. As thrilling as it is to experience jumbo nostrils, perfectly modulated pooting and downing an Icee bigger than your face, the challenge of keeping a four year old calm and quiet in a confined area without the aid of yelling at her, can be a daunting one. We got through it with the help of Easter candy stowed in my purse, stretching out thanks to retractable arm rests and three trips to the bathroom which kept us, as well as the people sitting around us, on their toes.
Shrek the Third delivers where expected. We get to meet more citizens of Far Far Away, including Fiona's gal pals Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella and Rapunzel. Eric Idle makes a great vocal cameo as Merlin, the slightly senile wizard who seems to have killed one too many brain cells in pursuit of peace-loving enlightenment. Justin Timberlake is the voice of Artie, the boy who would be king, and the scenes of Worcestershire High School, where he is the big dork on campus, provide lots of knowing laughs for parents, if not for little ones. Donkey gets shoved in a locker with an "I suck-eth" sign taped to his…er, backside. It's the kind of stuff that keeps this Shrek-fecta on track for two hours.
In the end, Artie accepts the crown, Fiona gives birth and I earned big mom points arming my kids with bathroom-humor spoilers to impress their classmates come Monday morning. And while I like the hype as much as the next over-consuming capitalist, I suspect in a kid-less life, I'd be just as happy to grab the DVD in a month or so and put the money spent tonight toward a tank of gas. With that saving plan, I might have enough by the end of the summer blockbuster season to fill up.