Here’s the good news: Puss in Boots is a high-energy romp through the outlaw kitty’s past that will have you laughing out loud with its spot-on “cat humor.” (And this is coming from a dog person, mind you.) The bad news: Its inevitable success will probably lead to spin-offs for every last character in the Shrek universe, and—perhaps with the exception of Donkey—those films will be nowhere near as good. But we’ll gripe about that a few years from now, I guess.
In the meantime we can enjoy learning how Puss (Antonio Banderas, whose love and enthusiasm for his character is evident) came to live in an orphanage filled with other fairy tale characters, and why he ended up being best buds with one Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis).
These two outcasts spent their childhood dreaming of finding magic beans (of Jack and the Giant Beanstalk fame) that would transport them to a castle in the sky where they’d be able to get their hands on golden eggs and then live like rich kings, happily ever after.
But things didn’t work out that way, and it’s revealed early on that Puss blames Humpty for betraying him and forcing him to live on the run as an outlaw for the past several years. However, now Humpty is back and begging his feline friend for forgiveness. It doesn’t hurt that a feisty senorita named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) is also on the scene and willing to help Puss and Humpty pull off what might be their last chance at those magic beans.
Unlike the Shrek films, which adults love because of their jabs at Hollywood (and specifically Disney) as well as their countless pop-culture references, Puss in Boots relies more on straightforward “cat humor,” puns, and random one-liners. But trust me, it works. Especially in the first third of the film before Puss, Kitty and Humpty set off on their quest. Some spectacular 3D animation can also be found in these opening scenes; kids in my theater were screaming (in a good way) and oohing and ahhing. I would imagine that parents might consider those reactions worthy of an extra few bucks.
And parents will most certainly be in favor of the film’s trim 90-minute running time, though truth be told, the story could have been even more compact. I would have preferred a slimmed-down version of the bean-stealing antics and the aftermath the trio faced… sometimes it seemed like there were just action scenes for the sake of throwing in more action scenes.
But overall I was thoroughly entertained by Puss in Boots, and would highly recommend it to anyone who loved the first Shrek film (when its biting humor was fresh and new). It should go without saying that it’s a must-see for cat owners!
By the end of the film we know how Puss got his boots and why he’s been on the run. But we’re left asking a new question: Can we please have a sequel? (Yes, imagine that, a movie that is actually worthy of another installment!)
More Puss in Boots at Redbox!