The critical buzz on Shrek the Third and Brooklyn Rules.

Highlights from the week in criticism.
May 18 2007 3:54 PM

Shrek Grows Up. Not.

The critical buzz on Shrek the Third and Brooklyn Rules.

Shrek the Third
Shrek the Third

Shrek the Third (DreamWorks). Critics guffaw at the latest vehicle for the goofy green ogre (and Mike Myers' voice), though some complain that it's ultimately just empty entertainment. In the New York Times, A.O. Scott reflects that Shrek the Third"feels less like a children's movie than either of its predecessors. (This may be why I liked it better than the others. But then again, so did my kids.)"Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum thinks the film is serviceable as a popcorn flick, noting that it "sticks to the swamp it knows best, in a mild climate of palatable jokes about fatherhood, high school, girl power, and a drug-education program for teens that advises 'Just Say Nay.' " But the Washington Post's Stephen Hunter is not impressed, sighing, "It contains two theoretically self-canceling polarities. It's (a) quite funny and (b) quite bad." (Buy tickets to Shrek the Third.)—D.S., May 18

Brooklyn Rules
Brooklyn Rules

Brooklyn Rules (ThinkFilm). Alec Baldwin's turn as a Mafia tough guy is, most critics agree, the high point in an otherwise predictable Italian-American mob tale. "Baldwin is so good in the coming-of-age gangster drama Brooklyn Rules that it's like watching a voodoo priest," remarks New York Magazine's David Edelstein. "[But] scene by scene, beat by beat, it offers absolutely nothing new—even that title is a snooze." Indeed, the Los Angeles Times' Kevin Crust says the film "falls into that niche of warmed-over Scorsesean mobster dramas that seems to have become a staple of independent film." Meanwhile, the Boston Globe's Ty Burr gripes that Brooklyn Rules"manages to be both personal and generic." (Buy tickets to Brooklyn Rules.)—D.S., May 18

Sky Blue Sky, Wilco

Sky Blue Sky, Wilco (Nonesuch). Critics grumble that this sixth studio album from the indie A-listers is insufficiently experimental—but they love it anyway. Rolling Stone notes that "the Chicago boys have done another scandalous about-face, retreating to the light, sweetly zonked country rock we all thought they got out of their system years ago." And the New York Times asks, "Where did all the weird noises go?" A rave review in Entertainment Weekly proclaims, "This may be the best Eagles album the Eagles never made." The haters at Pitchfork seem to agree, scoffing, "Sky Blue Sky nakedly exposes the dad-rock gene Wilco has always carried but courageously attempted to disguise." But the PopMatters' reviewer's confession is more telling: "[D]espite my initial misgivings, I've listened to the album more than any other released in 2007 thus far, and there's no stopping in sight." (Buy Sky Blue Sky)—B.W., May 17

Release the Stars by Rufus Wainwright.

Release the Stars, Rufus Wainwright (Geffen). The introspective singer-songwriter—who last year famously re-created Judy Garland's 1961 Carnegie Hall concert—seems to have overwhelmed critics with his fifth studio album. Entertainment Weekly's Gregory Kirschling cautions: "[Wainwright's] ambitions, it seems, are increasingly outsize, and … it feels like a mere pop album can't contain him," and the Boston Globe grumbles, "In place of songcraft and subtlety, there's grandeur and bombast." But the New York Times' Nate Chinen notes that Wainwright "has the uncanny ability to write songs that feel simultaneously forthright and evasive, urgent as well as coy." And the Guardian's Alexis Petridis comments, not disapprovingly, "Every time Wainwright seems on the verge of making a straightforward appeal for the mainstream, he throws a glittery spanner in the works." (Buy Release the Stars.)—D.S., May 16

Dick Wolf
Dick Wolf

Law & Order. In a surprise move, NBC renewed all three versions of Dick Wolf's long-running police procedural— Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent—meaning the original series will soon embark on its 18th season. One change: New episodes of Criminal Intent will now air on the NBC-owned USA Network, with reruns showing on NBC. The Los Angeles Times comments that Wolf and NBC execs "cast the move as an inventive solution that would allow them to extract the most value out of the franchise, a network mainstay that has lost some of its pull in the last year." Still, as the New York Times' Bill Carter observes, "The extension of the original Law & Order was especially important to Mr. Wolf because it keeps alive his long-held hope of eclipsing the record of Gunsmoke, television's longest-running drama, which was on the air for 20 seasons." And in the Washington Post, Lisa de Moraes notes that Wolf's insistence that viewers would not see any of the cost-cutting on screen "lend[s] credence to the Wolf-took-a-pay-cut notion, though it was intended to convey the sense that Wolf would not now begin wholesale whacking on CI and the mothership."— D.S., May 14

Doree Shafrir is the executive editor at Buzzfeed.

Blake Wilson is a Slate contributor and former Slate editor.



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?


Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.