Old 10-30-2011, 04:26 PM
Chris Miller's Puss in Boots

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Puss in Boots (2011)

“Puss in Boots,” a spin-off of the popular “Shrek” franchise, has been a film that’s been in development for quite some time. Originally announced back in 2004 as a direct-to-video release, it was eventually decided to turn the film into a theatrical feature in 2006. With the popularity of the “Shrek” films at the time, it’s no wonder such a change would be made, and now, after four of those films, Puss finally has an adventure of his very own.

The film, which acts as a backstory for Puss (Voice of Antonio Banderas), tells of his life before he met Shrek. He was notorious as a thief and, supposedly, as a womanizer. When he hears rumors of Jack (Voice of Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Voice of Amy Sedaris) having found the legendary magic beans, he decides to go after them himself. However, another thief, Kitty Softpaws (Voice of Salma Hayek), shows up to steal them as well. After the botched heist, she leads him to an old acquaintance of his, Humpty Dumpty (Voice of Zach Galifianakis), who fills Puss in on a plan to fulfill his childhood dream of planting the beans, climbing the beanstalk, and becoming rich from the golden eggs of the golden goose.

The story here is interesting because Puss has always been one of the more mysterious characters of the “Shrek” films ever since his introduction in “Shrek 2.” He comes out of nowhere as a hired assassin, eventually becoming good friends with the main characters, but now we get to see where he came from and how he became the swashbuckling cat we know and love.

Aside from the main plot, we are taken all the way back to when Puss was just a kitten who finds himself in a basket at the door of an orphanage in the small town of San Ricardo. It is here where he originally met Humpty Dumpty and began to share in his dream of the golden eggs, but due to some trouble-making and a betrayal by Humpty, Puss’s life as a notorious outlaw began, causing him to leave his home and go on the run.

The animation is the same professional level as their previous releases and features a lot of beautiful imagery. The characters and landscapes are in bright, vibrant colors that really help bring everything to life. I was fortunate enough to see this in 2D instead of the dreaded 3D, so the colors were completely intact. As per usual, it baffles me why anyone would pay extra to watch a dimmer version of any movie, particularly when it tends to ruin the hard work of the animators and production designers.

We also get top-notch voice work from the entire cast including Antonio Banderas, who gives his usual suave personality to Puss. Salma Hayek provides the voice of Kitty Softpaws and does a great job of integrating mystery and passion into the role. This, of course, is not the first time these two have worked together, having appeared together in four other films. The final lead is voiced by Zach Galifianakis, known for his work in “The Hangover” and its sequel. He too adds a good touch of mystery to his character and does well with the changes his character has to go through as the plot develops.

This film is notably different from its original franchise in that there aren’t really any pop culture references that the “Shrek” films became infamous for. There is some attempt made to split the level of humor, where some jokes will be for adults while others will be for the kids, but not nearly as much as usual. You may recall in the first “Shrek” film how some jokes were made about one of the character's privates. That’s basically the extent of the adult humor here. That being said, some of it is funny, as are some of the jokes that are meant for all ages.

Overall, “Puss in Boots” is light, breezy family entertainment that runs a very short 80 minutes. While the “Shrek” films may finally be over, and not a moment too soon as they were starting to decline in quality with “Shrek Forever After, perhaps “Puss in Boots” will spark a new series of adventures that would eventually lead up to where he meets his future friends. I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing another outing of this feisty feline. 3/4 stars.

Last edited by Hal2001; 02-20-2012 at 02:48 PM..
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