PUSS IN BOOTS (2011)
Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek
Director: Chris Miller
Studio: DreamWorks Animation SKG
Genre: Kids/Family, Animation
When Puss in Boots first showed up in Shrek 2 (2004), he was instantly adored by the millions of fans of the Shrek franchise. After two more Shrek installments, could a spin-off of the beloved kitty cat work? Can Puss carry a franchise of his own without the hilarious Ogre and dimwitted Donkey at his side? The answer is…well, maybe. I would have actually thought that if a Shrek character was going to get a spin-off, it would have been Donkey (Eddie Murphy), but I guess I was wrong. So, DreamWorks took the leap and here we are with the new animated adventure, Puss in Boots. Antonio Banderas is back as the voice of Puss, and he leads an assorted cast of delightful characters that include Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek) and Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). In addition to these “original” characters (except for Humpty, of course), we brush shoulders with classic “fairy tale” icons such as Jack and Jill, Little Boy Blue and Jack (the Beanstalk guy). Puss is forced to reunite with Humpty, who had betrayed him in a previous life. Together, the two partners and Kitty Softpaws are after the “magic beans” that will grow Jack’s beanstalk, eventually leading them to the “Golden Goose” and her priceless golden eggs. Ok, it sounds pretty stupid, I know. However, much like the Shrek films, Puss cashes in on familiar fairy tale characters’ names. Obviously, Humpty Dumpty never led a trio of feline outlaws to find the golden eggs. All he did was fall off of a wall. In any event, we all know his name immediately and recognize him as a household icon of children’s folklore. Same goes for Jack and Jill. In Puss, they play the villains who are keeping the magic beans for themselves for sinister and selfish reasons. Now, we all know that all Jack and Jill really ever did was fetch a pail of water, but here they are running around with Puss and the others. Puss really succeeds as a “prequel” to the Shrek franchise, showing us how the so-called legend of Puss came to be. We all thought he was a legend in his own mind, but it turns out that he did some pretty legendary things in Mexico. The comedy in Puss is top-notch. It appeals to both adults and children in this area, and boy, it missed no opportunities to cash in on the kitty cat humor. It’s hard for me to even use a clever title for this review because it would probably be a rip-off of the movie dialogue somehow. Balls of yarn, litter boxes, catnip, milk, letting cats out of bags, cats getting people’s tongues – they all get used to their potential in Puss. Even though Puss was funny, surprisingly the one area that it kind of came up short in was action/adventure. It got a little snoozy around the half-way point, and even my 10-year-old daughter said she almost fell asleep. It just draws on a little too long with the plotting of the plan, as opposed to the actual carrying out of it (the action). I thoroughly enjoy the Puss in Boots character, but sadly I think I like him more as a supporting character like he was in the Shrek films. In his own feature, there is nowhere for the comedy to go, no surprises to spring on the audience, and after the first half-hour or so, all the clever hooks have been exhausted. The ridiculousness of Puss in Boots as a character in general is priceless comedy. I always wish that my cat could talk, but what if she not only talked, but was a Latin lover who fenced. Oh my God, amazing! Anyway, these things will never happen, so I’ll just head out to the theater to watch animals talk, and Puss in Boots (thanks to the brilliant voice-acting of Banderas) has always been one of my favorite talking pets. Puss in Boots was not as good as it could have been, but it was fun movie-going experience, and those of you that are fans of the Shrek films won’t be able to help yourself.
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