“Shrek the Third,” review by Susan Granger

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That lovable green ogre’s back. He’s still irascible and endearing – but, somehow, this incarnation lacks some of the clever originality that made his predecessors so irresistible.

In the first film, Shrek (Mike Myers) and Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz) fell in love and got married. In the second, they met the parents – the King (John Cleese) and Queen (Julie Andrews), along with vengeful Prince Charming (Rupert Everett).

Now Shrek’s not only about to become a father but also rule as king – with help from old friends like wisecracking Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and feisty Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) – and new additions like Fiona’s half-brother Arthur, an underachiever known as Artie (Justin Timberlake), New Age-y Magician Merlin (Eric Idle), Lancelot (John Krasinski), Capt. Hook (Ian McShane), plus the feminist Princesses: Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri), Snow White (Amy Poehler), Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) and Cinderella (Amy Sedaris). And I didn’t even get to Larry King and Regis Philbin as ugly stepsisters.

“I’m an ogre. I’m not cut out for this,” Shrek grumbles, yearning to return to his swamp hovel. But, of course, he rallies to the daunting task ahead.

Screenwriter/director Chris Miller makes his directing debut, working with co-director Raman Hui and writers Jeffrey Price & Peter S. Seaman, along with Aron Warner – and the animation is glorious. But the fast-paced blending of classic fairy tale characters with campy contemporary culture just isn’t quite as adventurous or amusing here. Even Donkey isn’t as outrageous. Perhaps it’s all become too familiar. Yet there are funny moments – just not as many as before. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Shrek the Third” is an ornery, more ordinary 8. But since “Shrek 4” and even “Shrek 5” are underway, there should be lots more Happily-Ever-After ahead.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.