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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Movie Review: PUSS IN BOOTS


"That's a lot of heel for a guy, don't you think?"
-- Kitty Softpaws

Puss in Boots is a 2011 animated film directed by Chris Miller that serves as a spinoff for the titular character who gained fame in the Shrek franchise. The film begins with Puss (Antonio Banderas) learning of the existence of magic beans that will lead to an enchanted castle in the sky which houses a Golden Goose that lays golden eggs. Puss has spent his whole life looking for these beans, but after years of fruitless searching, he had given up the quest. Now, however, he is told that two ruffians named Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) are in possession of the beans. When Puss goes to steal them away, he runs into another cat attempting to do the same. After a brief scuffle, he learns that this cat is named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), and she is working with an egg named Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), with whom Puss has a storied past. He reluctantly agrees to help them find Jack and Jill, and the trio sets out to find their fame and fortune.

The talk for a Puss in Boots spinoff film has been going pretty steadily since his first appearance in 2004's Shrek 2, so it was only a matter of time until Dreamworks actually took the time to make the film. By waiting until after finishing the Shrek franchise (supposedly), they had the opportunity to distance themselves from the Shrek character while still bringing the nostalgia of having one of that franchise's funnier characters grace the screen in his own light. I was a strong proponent of the idea of a spinoff for Puss, but when I first saw teaser trailers for the film, I started to wonder whether Dreamworks could pull it off. Having bled the Shrek franchise for all it was worth (the first two films both scored 89% approval ratings on, but the third and fourth scored 41% and 58%, respectively), I was just a tad bit concerned that they'd be able to renew that energy with this film.

Thankfully, Dreamworks was able to deliver a well-made film that's sure to satisfy audiences. To reference once again, their critical consensus for the film reads the following:
It isn't deep or groundbreaking, but what it lacks in profundity, Puss in Boots more than makes up for with an abundance of wit, visual sparkle, and effervescent charm.
I'd have to say those were my thoughts exactly. It wasn't bringing anything terribly new to the table, but it was intelligent enough to keep me interested throughout its entire run-time. One reason the Shrek franchise proved to be so successful was the fact that it catered to both children and adults, offering a wide range of humor types in order to keep all audiences involved with the story. Puss in Boots follows that same vein, bringing enough slapstick comedy to keep the kiddies occupied while the parents can lean back and enjoy the wit and clever wordplay.

The cast rounds out relatively nicely as well. Banderas brings the same A-game he brought to the character in his first three go-arounds, but it's the supporting cast that helps bring this film to a higher level than the last couple of Shrek flicks. Hayek and Galifianakis share a great rapport with Banderas throughout the film, and the inclusion of Thornton is a pleasant surprise. Oh, and for those of you paying very close attention, we actually get a small vocal performance from Guillermo del Toro. So keep those listening ears on high alert.

Overall, Puss in Boots is a fun film that's good for a chunk of laughs. It's not breaking any barriers or bringing anything terribly new, and at the end of the day, the story is still a tad predictable and easy to figure out. Still, the animation is top-notch and the laughs are plentiful, so just sit back, relax and enjoy this one. Don't try to out-think it; you'll find yourself hating it. Just enjoy it for what it is, and I'd bet you'll have yourself a good time.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: B
1.5 Thumbs Up

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