Puss in Boots
Puss’s Boots Slow Him Down
No one could have been more excited than me that a character from the Shrek enterprise was getting his own spin-off movie. I faithfully bought tickets for all four Shrek films in the theatre, eagerly awaiting the hilarious antics of each endearing character – including Puss in Boots. However, after sitting through the cat’s own bizarre story, I’m left feeling unfulfilled and more than a little bit disappointed.
An amalgamation of both fairy tales and nursery rhymes, Puss in Boots begins abruptly with the feline himself, voiced by Antonio Banderas, introducing his story. While trying to pursue a lifelong dream of nabbing the legendary “magic beans,” Puss is derailed by another cat burglar. A dance-off ensues – what would a Dreamworks animated film be without one? – and the other feline’s identity is revealed. She is Kitty Soft Paws (Salma Hayek), and she works with Puss’s old best friend-turned-enemy, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), quite the random character to befriend a Spanish kitty, but there’s no such thing as realistic when it comes to fairy tales.
A nauseatingly slow flashback reveals the history between Puss and Humpty. It’s so lengthy in fact that I nearly forgot about the movie’s present tense. Why didn’t they just start the film with the orphaned egg and the freakishly ninja-like cat as kids and go from there? Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Back in the present, a truce is called and the unlikely band of feral characters sets off on a journey to find the magic beans and climb the beanstalk to the castle in the sky where the goose that lays golden eggs awaits. If they’re successful, Puss wants to take the fortune back to his village to repay the bank he once mistakenly robbed; but Humpty may have other plans.
If you’re expecting Puss in Boots to infuse the same level of humor as its blockbusting ogre-themed counterparts, you’ll be sadly mistaken. Sure, there’s a few clever ideas – Jack and Jill, for instance, are giant middle-aged villains instead of happy little kids as traditional interpretations of the nursery rhyme might suggest. And there’s one awesomely random ancillary kitty whose signature sound effect will surely creep its way into your vocabulary after the credits have rolled. But a couple of cheap-shot laughs aside, this adventure just isn’t very funny. And where at least the original Shrek had an overall theme and even a lesson, I’m not sure Puss in Boots does. Friendship prevails even when your friend stabs you in the back? It’s okay to steal if it’s something you really want? Not necessarily the messages I’d want to put in the minds of my little ones if I was a parent, but that’s just me.
The film ends just as abruptly as it begins, and though I know many people and their kids enjoyed it for what it was – 90 minutes of ridiculous cartoon fun – I felt like the plot was all over the place, the characters were one-dimensional and the jokes for the most part fell flat.
I haven’t given up on you completely, Dreamworks, and though you’ll likely make a pretty penny off Puss in Boots, it just isn’t going to be the next Shrek. Better luck next time – how about a Donkey spin-off instead?