BBC3: Saturday 9 January, 9.05pm
Few critics had kind words for Shrek the Third but the continuing story of Mike Myers’ jolly crude green ogre was a hit anyway, and rightly so. It’s the best kind of ‘threequel’ – one that requires no prior knowledge of events in the first two films. It’s simply a goofy collection of characters in a funny fairytale. And the animation is amazing. DreamWorks has excelled itself – whether it’s the rustling leaves on the trees, flickering flames or foamy waves, it all looks real, virtually three-dimensional.
Look, ma, no glasses! Even the stubble on Shrek’s chin looks like it itches. With Eddie Murphy’s Donkey and Antonio Banderas’ Puss in Boots, Shrek sets sail in search of Far Far Away’s rightful heir. He’s a boy king called Arthur, at school in Worcestershire. “What the Shooster-shire kind of place is this?” wonders Donkey. It’s an American highschool kind of place (I think this is what might have upset the English critics) where the kids are encouraged to ‘Just say nay’.
And to scorn Arthur. “Artie a king?” scoffs school show-off Lancelot. “More like the mayor of Loserville.” Merlin pops up too, a retired teacher and fully formed New Age wacko with his fireside chats and serenity circles. Of course, Rupert Everett’s nefarious Prince Charming still has his eyes on the crown. He’s raising an army of malcontents – Captain Hook, Cyclops, wicked witches and ugly stepsisters – from the local tavern. But this is the kind of cheerful romp that’ll end happily ever after after all. And, part of its charm I think, it isn’t just Shrek who saves the show. BBC3 has the amusing 2011 spin-off, Puss in Boots, Sunday at 9pm. In many respects, it’s the same story: the jokes are goofy, the animation amazing.