Princess powwow

Shrek's voices talk about fairy tales and women's lives today.

Published May 13, 2007

LOS ANGELES - In Shrek the Third, Cameron Diaz's ogre bride shares teatime with the fairy tale world's fairest princesses: Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel.

With Diaz's plump Fiona expecting a litter of tiny ogres with hubby Shrek, her old princess pals throw her a baby shower in the animated sequel that opens Friday. True to the Shrek world, these are not the well-behaved princesses of classic children's stories.

Snow White (voiced by Amy Poehler) is a haughty queen bee, Cinderella (Amy Sedaris) is an obsessive clean freak and Sleeping Beauty (Cheri Oteri) is a narcoleptic who's constantly nodding off. Rapunzel (Maya Rudolph) looks down on her royal cousins as if from a high tower and hides a terrible secret about her glorious hair.

After Prince Charming leads a coup, Fiona must teach her pampered friends - whose natural inclination is to assume passive positions and wait to be rescued - how to stand up for themselves.


This seems like a female empowerment or princess empowerment film. What's that say about the old fairy tale notion of, as the princesses say, "assume the position" and wait for some man to save them?

Sedaris: Sounds good to me now. It does.

Diaz: That comes from the old-school fairy tales that at one point were a comment on society. That's what these fairy tales are for, to recognize what the values are and how society is constructed at the period of time those stories are being told. And current-day storytelling obviously is that. ... I love that (Shrek the Third is) commenting on where we're at right now as women. It's also holding it up to our past. It's turning that on its ear but having fun with it, allowing them to grow into the women we are today. ... Rather than saying, "You're completely wrong, " it's saying, "Here's the ability to change." At the same time, it's not just a message for princesses. It's a message for everyone, because we all need to know that you can't sit around and wait for someone to come make it happen for you. You have to be proactive in your own life.

Poehler: Well done. ... What's also nice is we go through this transformation, where we kind of literally rip off our feminine things to fight. There's this nice raw moment where we get kind of dirty, and we don't stay so put together.

What are your favorite animated films?

Sedaris: I always liked Mr. Magoo. I liked his eyes, and whenever I have allergies, I feel like him.

Poehler: I have a really obscure movie I love. It's not animated, but live-action with puppets. Did anyone ever see Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas? It's a Jim Henson Christmas movie with puppets, but they ice-skate and they're on water and in rowboats.

Oteri: I remember The Incredible Mr. Limpet. It combined live action with animation, and I thought that was crazy! Is it a cartoon? Is it a movie? I don't know! But I think there was such an appreciation with any of the Disney cartoons because they only came on once a year. You didn't have the video and DVD we have.

Sedaris: I loved all the Disney movies. I saw Snow White not too long ago. It's just beautiful.

Diaz: The animated film that would come on television that I could not wait to see, and it was a family event, was The Hobbit.

Rudolph: I remember going to see Bambi in the theater, and then Bambi's mom dies, and I went, "What? Why is that in a kid's movie?" ... Now that I'm watching some of the stuff that we watched growing up, the Bugs Bunny cartoons and stuff, there's so many guns and all this crazy fighting ...

Oteri: ... and violence ...

Diaz: ... Wile E. Coyote, Road Runner, Tom and Jerry.

Oteri: And even with cartoon kids now, the girls are looking like little hookers. In the cartoons, I can't believe how they're dressed.

Rudolph: They are whores.

Poehler: You're getting old!

Oteri: Put a shirt on!

Movie preview

Coming Thursday

St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall reviews Shrek the Third and previews what else will be in theaters in the next few months, in Weekend.