With huge saucer eyes and Antonio Banderas providing a South American lilt, Puss in Boots was the star of Shrek 2. Dreamworks knowing they were onto a winner, have spun their favourite kitty into his own adventure.
Puss gets to exist in a similar universe where children’s characters happily or unhappily, co-exist with animated humans as if everything was completely normal.
Puss has been a bad kitty when we meet him and when we travel back in time, we see why he is ostracized and lost his metaphorical place by the fire.
As always when characters go bad, it’s Humpty Dumpty’s fault (Galifianakis), a bad egg if ever there was one. A character with a thin shell albeit quite capable of breaking a few eggs to get what he wants.
Puss and Humpty are searching for beans, magic beans
The film is an adventure following Puss’s attempt to find redemption after his earlier misdeeds. The story follows the search for the beans that will grow into the mythical beanstalk leading to the “golden eggs”, a source of unimaginable wealth, something every cat and egg partnership always dream’s of.
Standing in their path, in a very big way, are Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). This odd couple are somewhat meaner than I remember them, both with anger issues they need to work through, clearly they have not received the mental health help they need.
To add a romantic interest we have Kitty Softpaws (Salama Hayek), a feline temptress if ever there was one, learned in the ways of the catwalk. Teaming Banderas and Hayek together is of course a stroke of genius and their scenes together add to the film. A “Dance Off” rather than a sword fight is the order of the day and is choreographed with great care.
Galifianakis plays Humpty Dumpty, channeling all of his previous downtrodden, left behind characters from his previous movies, sometimes his schtick wears a little thin but the character just about works here.
The film does aim relatively young, there are some more mature references and enough to keep adults borderline entertained but this does not have the depth of later Pixar efforts. Kids will love the action, the colours and probably the depth of the 3D version (not reviewed here). Director Chris Miller has made a better film than his previous weak Shrek 3 entry in the series, here clearly showing some care and affection with this well loved character.
As always animation is now at a level we just accept perfection as the norm. It’s almost as if these characters just exist and are merely filmed, rather than spending hours inside a mainframe being painstakingly rendered frame by frame.
There are periods where the story flags, the strongest elements are the flashbacks, children however will not notice, as there will a chase scene along in a few minutes.
Who would have thought that an animated cat, wearing boots and carrying a sword would earn over half a billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Whoever came up with the character clearly deserves a raise.
Good fun for a younger audience, parents should just about find enough to keep them entertained.
Puss goes from strength to strength, clearly breaking free from his Shrek origins and on this evidence, there may be a few more lives left yet.