Title: Puss in Boots
Director: Chris Miller
Starring (voices): Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Constance Marie
Puss in Boots takes the titular character introduced in the Shrek movie franchise and tells the adventurous feline’s story in 90 minutes of 3D animated glory. Yes, the animation executed by DreamWorks Animation is once again splendid and crisp. Do you need to shell out the extra cash for 3D ticket prices? Not at all. There’s plenty of scope in the traditional 2D screenings and the kiddies will be entertained just the same.
The character is a cunning cat version of Zorro set in a screenplay that blends the playful action of a Pirates of the Caribbean flick with a little bit of an Indiana Jones adventure saga. Antonio Banderas energetically voices Puss as the anti-hero is on a quest for the magic beans that have been told in the infamous Jack and the Beanstalk lore. Puss has a lead on the fabled beans, for Jack (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton) & Jill (voiced by Amy Sedaris) – all grown up and cut-throat – have seized the beans that if planted in the right spot, will grow the bean stalk to where the golden goose lays her golden eggs.
Puss has been on the trail of the beans for years, as we see via a brief 15 minute flashback sequence that shows how the legendary character came to be. During that time, we learn about the turbulent relationship between Puss and his best friend, Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), who was also obsessed with finding the beans to gain riches. As the two plotted to locate the magic beans in their small and humble Spanish town, a morale decision separated the two more-or-less brothers. Now that Humpty has reappeared in Puss’ life, sporting a new partner in Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek), the duo lure Puss into joining up with them to snag the beans from the ruthless Jack & Jill.
From an adult perspective, this spin-off is definitely not as funny as the Shrek movies. Granted they scaled back on the go-to pop culture references the Ogre installments eventually beat to death, but there is a noticeable lack of jovial moments. Instead, the screenplay focuses on elaborate action sequences that have the ability to keep both young and older audiences fixated on the screen. The characters travel across vast landscapes and take part in chase sequences on rooftops and through mountains. So while the animation dazzles, the sharp dialogue is precariously set on auto-pilot; leading to the Puss character – who we now have in larger doses for the first time – feel spaded. If the filmmakers had the “go for it” attitude Antonio Banderas displays in voicing the walking upright swordsmen, things would have been more entertaining all around.
Overall, Puss in Boots gives one an eye-full to look at and bask in from an animation standpoint. And the storytelling is concise and delivered in an appropriate manner to please a wide-range of audiences. When there’s a dip in the action though, the film feels underwhelming in the charisma department (i.e. Rango). Therefore, this follows the typical spin-off pattern – a nice addition to the DVD collection. All that said, this will undoubtedly charm the boots off the kids.
Acting (voice): C+
Review by Joe Belcastro