Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots, 2011, USA

By Jennifer Hanson

I avoided this film in theatres as I saw the Shrek franchise grow progressively worse.  I just didn’t trust this movie to be worth the price of admission and refreshments.  I was wrong.

Puss in Boots represents a new life for the Shrek film series.  It’s a prequel to the series that focuses on the early life of Puss (Antonio Banderas).  After years of living as an outlaw, Puss runs into Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who is trying to steal magic beans from the notorious Jack and Jill (Bill Bob Thorton and Amy Sedaris).  He discovers that Kitty’s partner in crime is Humpty (Zach Galifianakis), who was the childhood best friend of Puss.  This reunion is not a happy one, as Humpty betrayed Puss many years prior.  The three reluctantly team up to steal the magic beans, and plant them, in order to get their hands on the legendary golden eggs.

The movie was charming, and avoided the pop culture humour that doomed the Shrek franchise.  The film is a satire of the Zorro films, but it offers more of a timeless quality than the pop culture references of Shrek, which are already dated.  Several new fairy tale characters separate from the Shrek franchise are introduced in this movie, as well.  I’m not sure if any of the supporting characters will ever have the likability of Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon), who was always my favourite character in Shrek.

Banderas continued to bring charm to Puss, and both Hayek and Galifianakis are welcome additions to the series.  Banderas is an excellent voice actor.  I worried that I’d feel removed from the film, as Banderas has such a distinct voice, but he really got into character, and I was able to focus on the film, and not the fact that it was Banderas.  I did feel that Hayek was a bit underused and would have liked to know more about her character.  Galifianakis was excellent, though.  His character was written well, and had a great story arc.

The highlight of the movie (for me, at least) was seeing the early life of Puss.  The animators did an awesome job animating Puss as a kitten.  As a cat lover, I was on a cute induced high during the entire sequence.  I could never really imagine Puss as a kitten, and, while his origin may have been slightly cliché, satire works by mocking these sorts of clichés.  The animation as a whole was beautifully done.  I wish I’d rented the HD version of the film off of Apple TV.  When one contrasts the original Shrek with Puss in Boots, you can really see just how far computer animation has come in just over a decade.

I highly recommend this movie.  It was such a refreshing surprise.  It was exciting, heartfelt, and funny.  Too often in movies aimed more at children, adults find themselves bored by childish humour or overly simple plot lines.  Puss in Boots manages to appeal to both children and adults with a dynamic plot, powerful characters, and the occasional joke that may just go over the heads of young children!


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