My kids had a good time with this while I enjoyed it mildly. To be fair, from a story standpoint, this doesn't drop the ball quite like 2004's "Shrek 2" but is something that the whole family can enjoy, as there's plenty of obvious humor for the kids, as well as more subtle, subversive humor for the adults. The voice acting is up to par for both Myers and Murphy who are excellent as Shrek and Donkey. There's an ease about their performances that no doubt comes from long familiarity with the characters and with each other - this is the third installment, after all - that communicates the friendship between Shrek and Donkey to the audience, making the film that much more fun to watch. Add in Banderas' excellent performance as Puss in Boots, and you've got a real winning combination. Justin Timberlake, as King Artie, meshed surprisingly well with the act of those who had been through the previous two.
"Shrek the Third" found some room for a story about personal responsibility and impending fatherhood, themes that are new to the series. That's not to say it's a story well-told; too often does the movie seem to try and manipulate an emotional response from us in tried and true ways (a melancholy song or quick change of mood) that is counteractive from the original's genuine charm and feeling. Gone is director Andrew Adamson- off making the second "Chronicles of Narnia" film, and his intelligent feel for the material is missed as co-directors Chris Miller and Raman Hui- working with an army of four screenwriters- go through the motions of telling the story, with predictable plot devices and easy jokes (some of which are funny, but not enough) while introducing new characters (like Eric Idle's inspired Merlin) and finding room for old favorites (Pinocchio and Gingerbread Man) at the service of a story that's just good enough to keep people in their seats. I suppose the curse of the third-film letdown could strike "Shrek" as it has so many- artistically, it already has- but come on, this is summer, this is a "Shrek" movie, and it's got just enough of what its' target audience wants to keep them coming back for more come, what, 2010?
I'd be enjoying the franchise a lot more if it were offering anything new artistically (not complaining about the animation here; it's spectacular without calling attention to itself (Happy Feet- call it a quiet confidence); but at least their rivals at Pixar do sequels for the right reasons- they have a darn good story to tell (anyone else excited about "Toy Story 3" being written by "Little Miss Sunshine" Oscar winner Michael Arndt?). Dreamworks is just padding the bottom line on a blockbuster franchise. Other than that, it's still worth your time and your money for the sake of the kids.