- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 19, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on commonsensemedia.org.

‘Shrek the Third’

Rating: PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action.

Common Sense Media: On. For ages 6 and older.

**** (out of five stars)

Running time: 93 minutes

Common Sense review: It’s not an animated masterpiece like the enchanting first two classics, but “Shrek the Third” is still one of those rare films that everyone from preschoolers to grandparents will find irresistibly amusing.

Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz return as happily married ogres Shrek and Fiona, who inherit the kingdom of Far Far Away from ailing King Harold (John Cleese). Shrek doesn’t think he’s fit to wear a crown, so he and dependably side-splitting sidekicks Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss In Boots (Antonio Banderas) set out to find the only other living heir to the throne, Arthur Pendragon (Justin Timberlake) — but not before Fiona announces she’s royally pregnant.

While Shrek faces his fear of fatherhood and attempts to persuade young Artie — a hesitant, insecure teenager — to succeed King Harold, things go awry in Far Far Away. Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) rounds up a motley crew of fairy-tale villains, including Captain Hook (Ian McShane) and one of the Ugly Stepsisters (Regis Philbin), to instigate a coup and imprison Fiona, Queen Lillian (Julie Andrews) and beloved princesses Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Snow White (voiced by comedy actresses Amy Sedaris, Cheri Oteri, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler, respectively).

The princess-in-peril subplot proves to be the most entertaining. The ladies prepare simply to assume the position in which they want to be rescued (Beauty plops down on a bunk and snoozes, Cinderella scrubs the floor, etc.) until Fiona and the queen challenge them to unleash their inner warriors.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that, like the previous two “Shrek” films, this movie includes jokes aimed at adults that will go over the heads of most children. There’s some cartoon violence, which often is played for laughs. Expect even your youngest child to want to see this one — if your youngsters watch TV, go with you to the supermarket or eat at Mcdonald’s, chances are they have seen Shrek.

Families can talk about what made children want to see this movie — the story or all the product tie-ins. Do children want a product because Shrek is pictured on it? Parents also can discuss the movie’s girl-power issues. As for the film franchise, should the “Shrek” movies continue, or is this a good one to finish it off?

Sexual content: Shrek and Fiona are affectionate and kiss; they’re shown sleeping in the same bed. Puss flirts with various female cats.

Language alert: Basic PG words and insults.

Violence alert: The villains and heroes of fairy-tale lore engage in face-to-face battle with sticks, swords, fists and more. Most of the violence is quick and leads to laughs.

Commercialism alert: Same as before; real labels are parodied for humor. Shrek is also the spokes-ogre for a wide variety of real-life products, including candy and fast food — while simultaneously appearing in anti-obesity ads for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Social-behavior alert: The princesses are selfish and a bit stereotypical at first but eventually prove to be good role models. Fairy-tale villains choose to be good. Typical high school relationships are played for laughs.

Drug/Alcohol/Tobacco alert: Fuzzy navels are ordered at a bar. Puss proposes that he and Shrek drink monitors. Students at Artie’s high school tumble out of a smoke-filled carriage talking about frankincense and myrrh in an obvious reference to marijuana.

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