Puss in Boots
Directed by Chris Miller
We all knew there would be a Puss in Boots movie the second the image of Puss with his giant cute eyes became a computer desktop background months before Shrek 2: Dark Territory hit theaters. And while the Shrek series has been on a rocketship to planet Crap, Puss in Boots manages to be more entertaining than any Shrek sequel. And I’m not just saying that because I liked the film and saw it for free at an advanced screening. In fact, I had a bad time at the theater until the film started, thanks to some awful customer service that guaranteed I’ll never buy concessions there again. But the humor was good enough to calm my nerves and even get me happy again.
Puss in Boots is a spinoff of the Shrek films, but manages to feel somewhat independent of the Shrek universe while still being a part of it. There are still fairy tale elements running around, but the desert environments, Mexican flavor, and wild west inspiration give us a different spin. We follow our familiar character, Puss in Boots, as he has a prequel adventure that is both a story of its own and an origin story (done in flashback.) The decision to not make it a direct origin story, but to start from a familiar place and then go backwards before heading forwards was the right one. We already like Puss in Boots, and don’t need to be sold on liking him. The flashback to his childhood instead is plot related, making it feel important and not just filler.
As we start, Puss is attempting to steal magic beans from notorious outlaws Jack and Jill in order to pay off his lone debt. But his theft is thwarted when another cat thief (in a costume resembling Batman) also attempts to steal the magic beans, alerting the criminal duo to the feline larcenists. Puss chases the mysterious other cat, gets involved in a dance battle, and recruited by his childhood friend Humpty Dumpty on a big score to steal the magic beans and use them to grow a beanstalk to rob the goose that lays the golden eggs. This matter is complicated because Puss and Humpty Dumpty had a falling out last they met, that resulted in Humpty spending years in prison and Puss a fugitive in his hometown. Their bad blood is put aside, because Puss can use the money to pay off his debt to the people of his hometown.
But first they must rob Jack and Jill of their magic beans, which isn’t as simple as it sounds. We all know that you need magic beans, and that beans are magical fruits. Eat to play music, and plant to rob giant castles in the sky. Salma Hayek as the female cat, Kitty Softpaws, does a delightful job, and continues the strong female roles in this universe. The integration of the fairy tales to the plot worked well, and as we know if these tales were real, people would dream of robbing those treasures blind. Most of the characters are more complicated than simple good/bad archetypes, with each experiencing their own internal conflicts and loyalties. This causes a lack of a clear villain, but that helps the film more than you would think. While not perfect, the story comes together nicely
The plot itself is rather generic, but generic in a good way. There is little of the subversive elements that helped make Shrek stand out from the fairy tales it was lampooning (and later sadly turned into), but we don’t really want a complete carbon copy. Puss in Boots isn’t Shrek, it’s Puss in Boots. That fat green lump and the chatty donkey aren’t even mentioned, which is totally awesome. It’s probably the best part about Puss in Boots that isn’t cat related. There are still jokes that only adults will get, along with the simpler humor for the kids. And the product placement is much more toned down (either that, or I’m starting to get blind to it!) The 3D is nice (as most CGI films have), but not essential for the experience. You would be perfectly fine if you skip it.
I couldn’t help notice there were a few similarities to Shrek 2, including an extended bar sequence filled with shady characters, and a giant monster during the climax. But besides a few elements, Puss in Boots largely stands in his own shoes. Or boots. And does it well.
And the best part is the cat at the bar who keeps covering his mouth in shock, saying “Ohhh!”
Let’s not forget that Puss in Boots had an all-cat premiere!
For Immediate Release
FAMOUS FELINES FLOCK TO FIRST-EVER “ALL-CAT” PREMIERE FOR
FORTHCOMING DREAMWORKS ANIMATION FILM, “PUSS IN BOOTS”
HOLLYWOOD, CA (October 6, 2011) – Tinseltown’s most touted Tabbies and Toms traipsed the red carpet last night—occasionally stopping to scratch or chase something sparkly before attending a special screening of the DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc (Nasdaq: DWA) October 28th release, “Puss in Boots.” Headlining the event was the suave and sophisticated Spaniard himself, Antonio Banderas, who has supplied the voice of the legendary hero since Puss’ first onscreen appearance in the global hit, “Shrek 2,” in 2004.
The “felines only” unspooling on the lot of Paramount Pictures brought the crème de la crème of industry kitties before the kliegs, including such breed standards as Cat Blanchett, Don Cheetah, Leonardo di Catrio, Zach Galifurnakis, the Real Housecats of Beverly Hills, Kitty Perry, and Justin Timberlynx. “It was a purrfectly enjoyable event—I’m so glad I got up from my nap in time to make it,” one attendee was overheard saying.
DreamWorks Animation’s “Puss in Boots” bounds its way into theatres nationwide on Friday, October 28, 2011.
Long before he even met Shrek, the notorious fighter, lover and outlaw Puss in Boots becomes a hero when he sets off on an adventure with the tough and street smart Kitty Softpaws and the mastermind Humpty Dumpty to save his town. This is the true story of The Cat, The Myth, The Legend…The Boots.
“Puss in Boots” has been rated “PG” for some adventure action and mild rude humor by the MPAA.
Rated 7/10 (Moon kid, magic beans, cat scratch fever, best part of the film, tattoo exposition, laid eggs, shot of milk)
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