Movie: Puss In Boots
Director: Chris Miller
Studio: Dreamworks Animation
It’s probably safe to say that by the end of the last Shrek film, the majority of our readers were ready to be done with the ogre and his friends forever. What had started as an ingenious, truly unique take on children’s storytelling had become a monstrosity of pop culture references and half-assed yucks that were old before the final chapter even began. Amongst the rubble of a once great franchise however, was Puss In Boots, the one character who had yet to wear out his welcome (most likely thanks to his extremely brief speaking parts). Someone in power noticed this and a couple years later, the first theatrical Shrek spinoff has arrived.
You can’t blame anyone for pursuing a full length Puss In Boots movie. Not only do you have the tie-in with Shrek, but anyone with access to the internet for five minutes can tell you how much people seem to love cats. How could you not try and grab a piece of that sweet, sweet internet (aka parent’s) money? Lucky for viewers (or maybe for the studio), Puss In Boots is much more than a vehicle for a paycheck and actually offers an adventure that’s well within the realm of associated flicks without feeling like worn territory.
Following a brief introduction from our feline hero, Puss In Boots wastes no time bringing viewers into a time before Far Far Away land when Puss was out to clear his name. He learns that Jack & Jill (the same that went up the hill) are in possession of magic beans and realizes possession of said beans would mean access to the legendary golden goose that lies in the castle in the clouds. He sets out to steal the magic vegetables, but as the first attempt to solve a problem in nearly any film goes, it falls apart and launches us deep into a great b-story about brotherhood and friendship.
Where the Shrek films relied more on referential and tongue-in-cheek jokes over plot, Puss focuses much more on the adventure aspect of everything. It is funny and yes, there are (multiple) dance sequences, but the film boasts a quickly-paced script and enough eye-popping visuals to keep even the coldest hearts completely enthralled. This feels like the direction the previous series should have taken, placing the characters in outlandish situations within the arc of a normal action/comedy and letting the story produce humor naturally. Of course there’s something to be said for the vocal talents of Banderas, as well as that of Zach Galifianakis as Puss’ orphaned brother Humpty, but for the first time in awhile it isn’t the names associated with a children’s flick that will make it enjoyable for adults.
Let’s not kid ourselves, or actually, maybe we should, but Puss In Boots is a film intended first and foremost for children. Even though it stands miles ahead of other genre titles in terms of broad appeal, it’s still ultimately a movie for the young and young at heart. You have to accept that you’ll see (most) twists coming and that musical interludes are almost guaranteed, but in exchange you”ll get a film that goes to great lengths not come across as childish and for that alone it deserves your time. Let your inner child free one last time before winter bundles us up and let the antics of fabled creatures ease your mind, it’s worth it.
Review written by: James Shotwell