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Has 'Shrek' Cash Machine Run Dry?

No shortage of dollars, just of sense.

By Steve Burgess 18 May 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Steve Burgess reviews films for The Tyee every second Friday.

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'I can't find smart kid laughs, Donkey.'

If there's a defining line in Shrek the Third, it comes early: "Purchase the Shrek the Third Kid's Combo and get a free door hanger!"

To be exact, that comes in an ad shortly before the movie begins. I still haven't seen any actual Shrek the Third ads on TV yet -- only a Dodge minivan ad that features the characters.

But I can now definitively report that yes, there is a movie as well. Shrek the Third is a film. And a door hanger. Those are little plastic cards with Shrek characters on them, same as the ones hotels have that read "Do not disturb." They're free with a Kid's Combo -- which is popcorn, a drink and "treat" at the movie theatre. I don't know what message is intended when you hang up a Shrek door hanger. Perhaps it's to remind your lucky child that you already bought him the Shrek the Third Kid's Combo, so no Shrek toy or Shrek video game, you little ogre.

'Mild, mild ride'

A door hanger, a video game and much, much more. There is also, as I pointed out, a film. My discovery of this heretofore hidden fact will be recognized and honoured wherever investigative journalists gather to celebrate their accomplishments. It is just over 90 minutes, or approximately two Kid's Combos, in length. "Do not disturb" is another possible slogan for the film. If you haven't seen the others, it's not real important, although having missed the last one I never did figure out who the guy in drag was supposed to be. But if you're arriving late to the party, don't think Shrek the Third -- think Shrek the After-School Special.

"The thing that matters most is what you think of yourself," says somebody in this movie. Sorry -- that was a spoiler. I should have let them surprise you. Suffice to say, Shrek the Third is one mild, mild ride.

The biggest laugh came when a child was being dragged to the bathroom and shouted "Bye, bye!" to the audience. That didn't actually happen on screen, though. Funny.

To be fair there are a few chuckles in Shrek the Third, and the odd throwaway sight gag -- although really, they didn't have so many laughs that they should have been throwing any away. Some adults might also entertain themselves in scenes where Donkey, once again voiced by Eddie Murphy, is portrayed as a proud papa whose half-donkey, half-dragon kids spell out "We love you Daddy" in the sky. Sweet message, kids. In real life where Mr. Murphy is looking at a possible paternity suit from one of the former Spice Girls, it would be cause for legal action.

Green, funny ears

Mike Myers is back as Shrek's Scottish accent, Cameron Diaz plays his squeeze, and Justin Timberlake shows up as Arty, the would-be king who's bringing geeky back. Two former Pythons, John Cleese and Eric Idle, contribute. I hope they were handsomely paid. They need do nothing worthwhile ever again in their lives to deserve a lifetime of cushy paycheques like this one. A cut of the Kid's Combo profits to both of them, say I.

Shrek the Third is a film, because one was required. Your children may enjoy it because Shrek is green and has funny ears. Make them eat four bowls of cereal and some cold pizza before you go to the theatre. Maybe that way when you say, "Hey kids, how about a Kid's Combo?" they'll turn green and run for the bathroom.

Bye, bye.

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