Well, it’s Shrek glasses again.

They want me to come into the office at 2am today, which means sleeping in a few hours later, which means my whole schedule for tomorrow is going to be borked.

(Bork bork bork. Swedish chef. Heh heh.)

I felt like the whole premise of Shrek was stretched pretty thin after having seen the second film, let alone this new fourth one. (Or is it fifth? Didn’t they do Shrek 3D at some point?) My first indication this film was happening was Peanut informing me that we would have to buy the glasses being advertised in the McDonald’s promotion.

So not only are they rehashing plot elements from the previous movies, they’re rehashing the promotional stunts too.

I enjoyed the original Shrek because the entire thing, taken as a whole, was a subversion of the classic fairy tale. The hero is the lumbering ogre, see, not the ravashing prince. The princess’s curse was that she was made beautiful, not ugly. The dragon turned out to not be the bad guy. Etc. etc. etc. But in the end none of this was really a subversion; the story still played out like a classic fairy tale, and it all ended happily ever after.

Until the sequel.

Now I enjoyed the sequel too, but far less so, and I think the reason was that rather than trying to deconstruct what a fairy tale is and put it back together in a strange way, they just started lifting individual characters and subverting them. Prince Charming is an asshole, the Fairy Godmother is the villain, Puss in Boots is a badass. It was less, “Here is the story of an ogre and his donkey friend,” and more “How many Brothers Grimm references can we stuff in here?”

The first film had these too, of course, but they were in the background. The three blind mice wrecking Shrek’s dinner. Farquaad torturing the gingerbread man. It was just flavor, just bits and pieces of the overall tapestry that was Shrek. All of these bit parts got much larger roles in Shrek 2.

I guess my problem with Shrek 3 (which I own, but haven’t seen) was that it looked less like a fractured fairy tale and more like the exploitation of an established brand name. The former is interesting to me because I like fairy tales and I like humor. The latter is… not so much. Milking established brands is common. Everyone does it. Some folks do it well. I’m just not convinced Shrek has that kind of staying power.

Two quick counterpoints before I put this subject to bed: 1) I realize that I am not nine years old, and that Dreamworks really doesn’t care whether or not I go see Shrek VIII. I’m doing my part simply by having a girlfriend who wants their stupid McDonald’s cups. And 2) The release date for Saw VII is 10/22/2010 and I hope to be there on opening night. This entire post is therefore hypocritical and/or pointless, and you wasted your time reading it.

I have about two hours before I leave for work. I think I’ll spend it with Super Mario Galaxy 2.

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