There are a couple of things you can depend on with a Mike Myers movie: you'll get characters with funny accents, you won't be made uncomfortable by jokes that are not already familiar to you, and the movie will be accompanied by a marketing and merchandising blitz that sucks the oxygen right out of the atmosphere.
Such is the case with 'Shrek the Third', released 2 months ago. Shrek is everywhere. Shrek in the U.S. is like Kims Il-Sung and Jong-Il in North Korea. Shrek is like Saddam Hussein in pre-2003 Iraq, or Austin Powers in 1999 U.S.A. So when my daughter was given a Shrek fishing pole for her birthday, I didn't really think anything of it. It makes sense, a Shrek fishing pole. I am admittedly pretty sick of Shrek and his Donkey, but the 'Kid proof design lets you spend more time having fun and less time untangling line!' So where's the harm?
Then I read the back of the package and found this ominous message:
WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, and other reproductive harm.
The bit about California was especially mystifying. If we were to get in the car and head west, would we unlock the cancer-and birth-defect causing powers of the fishing pole by crossing the border? Is California trying to show off that they know something the hicks in the other 49 don't? It's especially worrisome as DreamWorks, who brought us Shrek, is based in California. So they are knowingly subjecting non-Californian kids to some toxic death compound.
The item itself, like all items that are sold in the U.S., was made in China, the nation that recently brought us poison pet food (although they then applied the same punitive tactics they use against people who think maybe democracy just might be a nice thing to the guy who sold us the poison food, and executed him).
To point the finger at China is probably letting DreamWorks off too easily. Why attach their name to toys that California knows are unsafe? It raises a lot of questions. What kind of marketing tie-ins can we expect with Shrek 4? Shrek-brand menthols? Crack Pipes featuring Donkey? The merchandising folks really need to be reeled in.