Haven’t seen Charlie in a while, have we? Man, I need to update her hairstyle.

Shrek the Third comes out this weekend and I’m in this weird position where I don’t want to see it… but I kind of do.

I can’t explain myself. I saw both Shrek and Shrek 2 and never really enjoyed them. I find them too arch and winking. In fact, I think Cami and I once rented the first Shrek movie when it first came out on DVD and couldn’t bother to complete it. We were just kind of like “Ehhh… kind of funny the first time. Not in the least bit funny the second time.” I don’t even remember what Shrek 2 was all about.

With their abundance of flatulence jokes, they are most certainly for kids. But the producers work very hard to throw in jokes for adults and, for me, it make for an uneven affar. I’m a bit of an animation purist. I don’t mean to imply that the medium is strictly for children. But if that’s your primary audience, take Gold Five’s advice and “Stay on target!” Too much of the adult stuff and it dilutes things. Part of the reason I got to animated movies is because I like to feel like I’m being transported to a time in my life when things weren’t so damn complicated. I mean, every now an again Pixar will toss in an adult joke in their movies. But I feel they’re typically more organic. The Shrek movies make it feel like a formula = “fart joke x fart joke / sex joke = box office”

This is an entirely subjective reaction, of course. But I believe there are more concrete reasons to hate the Shrek franchise. The over-abundance of marketing tie-in’s for one. I addressed it back when Shrek 2 was in theaters and it’s no less true now. You can’t go to the grocery store without looking at that freckled green ogre’s mug slapped all over the place. What I especially hate are those poorly dubbed commercials on TV right now where Shrek and Donkey are interacting with the M&M guys or buying a Happy Meal at McDonalds and the voices are SO CLEARLY not Mike Meyers and Eddie Murphy.

Look, I know they’re big stars whose vocal “talents” these companys probably can’t afford. But there should be someone at Dreamworks that says “If you’re going to use Shrek characters in your spots, then we recommend these two voice-approximate doubles.” You see these commercials and it’s like they’re not even using the same impersonators. It’s really annoying.

More than anything, I’m annoyed that due to the success of the Shrek franchise, (and this is something Gordon and I talked about in Monday’s Triple Feature talkcast) Mike Meyer hasn’t taken a creative leap in over half a decade. A cursory glance at his listing over at IMDB reflect only two starring roles since the first Shrek hit theaters in 2001 – Austin Powers in Goldmember and The Cat in the Hat. I’ll give him a pass on Goldmember because (even though he was plagiarizing himself in the first two movies) there was some original invention going on there. The less said about The Cat and The Hat, the better. Beyond that, only a few cameo roles unbecoming of one of Hollywood’s highest paid actors.

I completely understand how money has probably insulated Meyers from doing anything out of the box. I can see the appeal of rolling out of bed, doing a few hours of voice over work in a studio, avoiding the makeup chair and the chaos of a full-blown movie set. But speaking as a fan of Meyers ability to insert catchphrases into the lexicon with lazer-like precision, I’m amazed that he’s not taking the opportunity to do something more.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. He could have turned out like Eddie Murphy and starred in crap like The Adventures of Pluto Nash, Daddy Day Care an Norbit post-Shrek. Maybe THAT’S the bigger wasted opportunity!

Despite all of the reasons NOT to see Shrek the Third, I’m morbidly curious to see what it’s like. I didn’t want to see Shrek 2 when it came out, but Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots made the movie for me. He’s the most memorable thing in it and I still chuck when I think of how he delivered his introduction – “PUSSSSSS!… (in boots!)” Excellent.

To that end, I think I may have been won over by the casting. In one of the movie’s subplots, Cameron Diaz as Fiona leads a band of other princesses to defend the land of Far Far Away and she has Amy Sedaris, Cheri Oteri, Amy Poehler and Mya Rudolph behind her. Throw in John Krasinski from The Office, Seth Rogen from The 40 Year-Old Virigin, Ian McShane from Deadwood and you have my attention. Stunt casting – 60% of the time, it works every time. They’ve done studies, you know!

So what’s your opinion out there in the intertubes? Are you excited for Shrek the Third or do you think it will be more of the same? Have you ordered all your Shrek merchandise yet and will you be wearing it to the theater on Friday/? Are you like me and suckered by high-profile voice casting or do you think it cheapens animation by distracting you from the artisanship of an animator’s craft?

Leave your comments below and I’ll catch up with you!

↓ Transcript
Looking at this poster for Shrek The Third, something just occurred to me.

Aside from a few errant cameos, Mike Meyers has only performed in Shrek-related movies for the last five years.

Well, they probably make so much money, he probably isn’t motivated to show his face on-screen ever again!

I could drink to that.