By Michael Slezak
Updated May 18, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

Shrek has always been a franchise that appeals as much to adults as it does to kids, but movie critics across the country are noting that the latest installment, Shrek the Third, attempts to mine deeper psychological territory and more mature comic material. Whether or not the tonal shift is a welcome one depends on which reviewer you read. (Our own Lisa Schwarzbaum gives it a B-.) We’ve split ’em up into pro and con camps, so read on, and if you go ogre-board this weekend, check back and let us know what you think.

A.O. Scott, The New York Times: “Shrek’s anxious, less-than-overjoyed reaction to the prospect of becoming a parent is not something most youngsters will relate to. (In one brilliantly executed sequence he has a nightmare of being besieged by hundreds of gurgling, saucer-eyed ogre babies.) And the depiction of Cinderella (Amy Sedaris), Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) and Snow White (Amy Poehler) as bored, catty moms is likely to tickle fans of Little Children, a group that I hope doesn’t include any actual little children.”

Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun: “Director Chris Miller and company join the Hellzapoppin’ humor of a revue with the down-to-earth lesson-making of, say, Bill Cosby in his prime. The way the moviemakers have developed Shrek, his character can ground an entire continent. And the cartoon beauty of the concept that surrounds him — finding your own personal providence and embracing it — proves elastic enough to contain several dozen characters.”

Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle: “The emphasis on psychic wounds makes for a fuzzy-wuzzy Shrek, the kindest and gentlest in the trilogy and the only one to include the line, ‘Each of you is standing in your own way!’ The derivative psychobabble is (I’m figuring) meant as a parody in a franchise that’s known to spoof every available paradigm.”

addCredit(“Shrek the Third: DreamWorks SKG”)

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle:”There are some pop culture references to the 1970s, with Heart’s’Barracuda’ and Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’ featured on thesoundtrack, but there’s never the sense of a movie begging for laughsby throwing in anachronisms. The jokes are organic to the movie, to itssly and slightly caustic worldview, and they don’t stop coming, fromstart to finish.”

Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times: “If Shrek the Third,directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui from a screenplay by JeffreyPrice & Peter S. Seaman and Miller & Aron Warner from a storyby Andrew Adamson (whew), is any indication, what kids these days wantfrom their stinky green ogres is a lot of Gen-X parenting anxiety andcareer agita mixed in with plenty of winky elbow-nudging aboutcelebrity lifestyles.”

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times:”Another peculiarity is that the plot will probably not be engaging foryounger audience members, who understand dragons but don’t care thatuneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Shrek spends too much time inlachrymose conversation with his bride Fiona (voice of Cameron Diaz)and pondering the challenge of fatherhood, and not enough time being anogre.”

Mary F. Pols, San Jose Mercury News:”Manufacturing a message to go with a third adventure story proves achallenge. So at a critical moment, when Artie delivered a speech aboutwhat matters most, I dutifully reached for my notebook. Unfortunately,whatever he said was so insipid I’d forgotten it halfway through theprocess of writing it down. If I had to guess, I’d say it wasn’t farfrom that military motto, ‘be all that you can be.'”

Jack Matthews, New York Daily News:”Worse, at least for parents with little ones in tow, the new moviewallows in lame jokes aimed at adults, such as one where a husky,whisker-studded transsexual princess says of Prince Charming, he ‘makesme hotter than July.'”