Making its premiere on HBO last weekend was last year’s animated feature from DreamWorks Studios, “Puss in Boots”.
“Puss in Boots” is a spin-off prequel featuring Antonio Banderas’ feline character from the “Shrek” series of movies. It focuses on Puss as a young swashbuckler, as he attempts to pilfer the legendary magic beans from the notorious Jack and Jill, intending to scale the giant beanstalk in order to steal the goose that lays the golden eggs from the giant. Along the way, he has to deal with the treacherous Humpty Dumpty, and the seductive Kitty Softpaws.
Puss was a great addition to the “Shrek” series.
The question here is: Can he support a movie of his own?
The answer is: very much so.
Puss was always a great addition to the Shrek-verse, and here he’s up to all his greatest hits. He’s self aggrandizing, arrogant, and almost comically suave. He breaks out the “Big Eyes” trick on multiple occasions, flips and spins about acrobatically during robberies, and Antonio Banderas lays the “Latin Lover” on thick with the voice-work. The character we get here is very much the one we all loved in Shrek, and proves to be very worthy of taking the lead in a movie of his own.
Here, we get Puss’ backstory. He was raised in an orphanage alongside a young Humpty Dumpty (Zack Galifianakis), and together they dreamed of finding magic beans so they could climb the beanstalk and find the goose that lays the Golden Eggs. As they grew they began to get into mischief together, but at a certain point, Puss does something heroic and gains the adulation of the town, causing a reactionary Humpty to go too far in the opposite direction. He becomes a criminal mastermind.
When Jack and Jill (yes, THE Jack and Jill, LOL) are found to be in possession of the legendary magic beans, Puss makes an attempt to pilfer them. Jack and Jill are hardened criminals and formidable adversaries, but complicating matters even further is a wild card he hadn’t counted upon. A female cat burglar named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). When Softpaws also makes a play for the beans, he’s in danger of not only being beaten to the punch, but of falling in love as well. The resulting adventures lead Puss to a shaky reunion with Humpty, a conflict with Jack and Jill, and eventually, the giant beanstalk itself.
With its multiple allusions to classic fairy tales, along with the occasional clever nod to other movies and pop culture tidbits, “Puss in Boots” has a great deal of the flavor and spirit of the “Shrek” franchise. It also does a great job of maintaining the action/humor/character balance. It’s obvious that Dreamworks approached this property carefully and took time to invest in a solid story and fleshed out characters; things that could lead to future installments going forward. Well, that and its $500+ million worldwide take. LOL.
But that’s fine by me. This was an enjoyable animated romp. Banderas is great as Puss, and Hayek was a worthy counterpart as Kitty. Seeing them together in future adventures would be A ok by me. For now, this first installment gets a…