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Puss in Boots Review

It can be both a testament to and a demerit against a film that has a supporting character –
be they quirky, wise, evil, funny or just larger than life – that overshadows its
lead. In one case, these characters have transcended and bolstered what is a smaller,
secondary role with a memorable spark, but on the other hand often it marks a franchise that has run out of things to say
with its principle cast and storylines. The “Shrek” franchise squarely belongs in
the latter camp, but thankfully in the case of Antonio Banderas’ character of Puss
in Boots, this does not mean a charming little side project cannot successfully

Puss in Boots serves as an origin tale for the feisty feline who first appeared in Shrek 2, with a flashback sequence
unveiling his early kitty-hood and the central story molding the swashbuckler
and former thief into the charming do-gooder he was introduced as in that
animated sequel. “Puss” does not aim to neatly tie the character into the “Shrek”
universe by any means; it simply expands on an idea by which many (young and
old) were charmed.  

After three outings
as “El Diablo Gato,” “Frisky Two-Times” and “The Gingerhead Man” (among other
alias’), Banderas is still clearly having
a ball with the suave cat and as is the case with a feature length offering,
shows that 80 minutes with the tabby do not expire accompanied by phrases such
as “a little goes a long way.”

Brought up in an orphanage
populated by any number of bizarre and wacky residents, Puss early on befriends
an outcast by the name of Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who
dreams of finding the three magical beans made into legend by the tale of Jack,
the giant and his golden goose. As the two grow up, the quest for said mystical
vegetables turn into petty thievery and mischief, that is until Puss saves a
woman of status from a rampaging bull, the repercussions of which wedge a stake
between the friends. Then on one fateful night, a heist goes wrong and Dumpty
tricks Puss into helping, who then leaves the scheming egg to the authorities. Seven
years later, Puss in Boots is now a wanted fugitive, and not shying from the
unlawful lifestyle he once avoided, that is until the seductive Kitty Softpaws
(Selma Hayek) and his ol’ pall Dumpty emerge with a job too tempting to pass
up: the beans have been found.

Galifianakis brings the
awkward naivety to the character that comprises many of his live-action roles
and does a solid job if failing to elevate Mr. Dumpty to anything truly
special. The same goes for other supporting roles, Hayek as Kitty and Billy Bob
Thorton as Jack (of “Jill” fame), among them. What may be lacking in exuberant
personalities is more than made up for with the flawless animation, which is as
gorgeous as we’ve come to expect, especially in case of Humpty Dumpty. Bringing
an egg to life is no easy task, and his expressions and physical mannerisms are
spot on. As far as the actual content of
in Boots
, this spinoff certainly leans more towards the “kids” side of
things, but still has a number of cruder in-jokes at which parents will chuckle
but will zoom over the heads of their young ‘uns.

While this project may be
nothing more than a cash grab – an attempt to drain more cash from a dead
franchise – the end result is truly pleasant and a warm-hearted if not
substantive trip to the movies. I would be cautious toward giving any other of
the “Shrek” characters such as Donkey or perhaps Gingy a full movie, but
Puss in Boots works almost exclusively
thanks to Banderas and a lively pace. It earns most of its nine lives even if — in the end — it’s not quite the cat’s meow.

Rating: 7.0/10

Puss in Boots
Directed by Chris Miller
Written by Charles
Parrault and Brain Lynch
Starring Antonio Banderas,
Selma Hayek,
Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thorton



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