Puss In Boots Directed by: Chris Miller Cast: (voices of) Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis Running Time: 1 hr 30 mins Rating: PG Release Date: October 28, 2011
PLOT: Puss in Boots (Banderas) is a sword-fighting cat. He and Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis) are in pursuit of a golden goose, in order to clear their names. This adventure takes place before meeting the ogre Shrek.
WHO'S IT FOR? Anyone who has enjoyed Puss in Boots in the Shrek films will be pleased with this spin-off. Many of the cute moments will be enhanced if you're a cat person.
EXPECTATIONS: I pretty much thought this was a take it or leave it kind of situation. I didn't feel the need for this movie, but the majority of Shrek films have been good.
Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots: This cat is suave. And yes, I'm calling Banderas a cool "cat" as well as referring to Puss in Boots. This is most definitely Puss's adventure, as he's in almost every sequence. Plus, Banderas narrates part of the film as well. Puss in Boots is a more comical Zorro, which is of course in Banderas' wheelhouse. An outlaw trying to clear his name, Puss is confronted with family issues, following his heart, and trying to do the right thing. It is a story adults will appreciate and kids will understand. Score: 8
Salma Hayek as Kitty Softpaws: It's pretty much just like when Banderas and Hayek were together in Desperado, except now there is much more sex and violence. OK, that's not true, but what's scary is you know that piqued someone's interest out there. Kitty Softpaws is the world's best pick-pocket. I'll let the movie tell you why. There is some good flirtation between Puss and Kitty. In the past, I've had difficulty clearly understanding Hayek's English, I never had that problem with her as Kitty. Score: 7
Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty: I couldn't place the voice. At first I thought this was David Cross. More accurately a subdued Cross, which I thought was a good thing. Galifianakis is a good fit for this fairy tale world, but I thought they could have pushed a little more with this character. There should have been a deeper, richer texture to the brotherhood of Puss and Humpty. It is achieved in the extended flashback when we see how Puss and Humpty become friends, but then after that, it feels like we are just waiting for things to fall apart. Score: 6
Billy Bob Thornton/Amy Sedaris as Jack/Jill: When Jack and Jill are contemplating starting a family, I laughed the first time, and only the first time. Otherwise, I saw no reason to have these characters in the film. Jack and Jill are older, ugly and looking to capture the golden goose that Puss and Humpty are after. They randomly pop up, and add to some action sequences, but once you realize the entire plot of the film, their inclusion doesn't really make sense. Score: 4
TALKING: Yes, there are cat puns and egg puns. Luckily, the majority of them get laughs instead of me simply rolling my eyes. Score: 6
SIGHTS: The animation and 3D look great. The key to what we're looking at is all about the cat movements. For the most part, Puss acts like a human, but when those cat instincts pop up, it's endearing and funny. Whether it's Puss drinking milk, or chasing a reflective light, it's comedy cat nip for me. Score: 9
SOUNDS: We have a dance fight, and a quality Mexican-vibe to the music. There was a Lady Gaga song called "Americano" but it didn't stick for me at all. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: Puss arrives at the Glitter Box, has a dance off and officially meets Kitty Softpaws. One cat steals this entire scene though. Great work by the animators and Bob Persichetti as the "Ohhh Cat."
ENDING: Once again it takes on a "Zorro" vibe with our hero continuing on to seek out other adventures.
QUESTIONS: Why no cameos from the Shrek world? I'm not asking for the green ogre, but there are plenty of other characters who could have shown up for a couple of seconds to provide some more laughs.
REWATCHABILITY: Sure, but I won't be seeking it out. This cat will have to fall into my lap.
You don't have to love cats, just this Puss.
After all, if you deconstruct the sequences in the Shrek-spinoff Puss in Boots, we've seen it all before. Puss walks into a bar. Puss grows up an outcast in an orphanage. Puss is betrayed by friends. Puss must choose between his "family" and what is right. Humpty must decide if he's a good or bad egg. OK, we haven't seen Puss or Humpty go through these basic plot points before, but we've seen a million other characters do it.
Just released last week, The Three Musketeers attempted to capture some of the same adventure moments as Puss in Boots does. Where Three fails, Puss gets in right. Keep it simple, keep it moving and play on how funny and odd it is that a cat is acting a lot like Zorro.
The third act becomes a little too basic, even with Puss and Kitty still having good chemistry. Sure, the studios can say "Well, it's a movie for kids." But there are exceptions that try to be something more. This one gets close, but doesn't quite get there.
For me, Puss in Boots falls short of Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Winnie the Pooh, but not by a lot. It's fast, entertaining, and funny. You can't help but be charmed by this Puss in Boots.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10