PUSS IN BOOTS. Voiced by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, and Amy Sedaris. Directed by Chris Miller. Rated PG (Mild violence). 90 min.
This is a computer-generated film produced by Dream Works Animation. It tells the story of the adventures of Puss in Boots before his first appearance in “Shrek 2” (2004). Accompanied by Humpty Dumpty ( Zach Galifianakis) and Kitty Soft-Paws (Salma Hayek), a black female cat, Puss is pitted against two ugly villains, Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton, and Amy Sedaris). The movie is narrated by Antonio Banderas, who voices Puss in Boots, continuing the role he took in Shrek 2. This time around, however, the film has the help in its production of Guillermo del Toro, who is the creative master of horror fantasy in contemporary Spanish cinema. Not surprisingly, del Toro gives a sharp edge to some of the richly imaginative fantasy creations. One of the characters dies, Terror lurks menacingly in the sky, and there is some cartoon violence, but it is the originality of the fantasy that shows his mark.
The story of the movie successfully merges fairy tales that are part of nearly everyone’s bedtime childhood. Both Puss in Boots and Humpty Dumpty, have dreamed about getting access to the legendary magic beans, but rivalry has kept them apart. The years have passed, and Humpty Dumpty has to yet suffer his great fall. Together they now have the opportunity of finding the beans and giving fulfilment to their life-long dream. The beans, however, are in the possession of Jack and Jill. They are eternally angry, and their ugliness suggests wittily that the relationship is affected by their constant quests for pales of wate.
Puss and Humpty Dumpty take the beans from Jack and Jill, enlisting the aid of Kitty Soft-Paws. Puss, Humpty Dumpty and Kitty plant the beans and climb up the beanstalk into the sky where there is a fearsome monster called the Terror, who guards the Golden Goose. A romance between Kitty and Puss develops along the way, despite the fact that she has been pat of a con against him, involving both Humpty Dumpty, and Jack and Jill. But everything comes right in the end, the Goose lays her golden eggs, Puss saves a town threatened by the Golden Goose’s mother, and loyalties and friendships endure. The plot of the movie really doesn’t matter. The film’s images exist to create joy and they do so, and the quality of the animation is excellent.
The movie sparkles with wit and charm. Most of the characters involve themselves in double-cross, but before the film concludes they redeem themselves and discover the values that really matter. Puss always tries to do the right thing, and constantly teaches the value of friendship and loyalty. Kitty Soft-Paws is a brave and courageous female character, and Humpty sacrifices himself for the good of others, falling off a bridge to save Puss and the Golden Goose. Mother Goose takes the broken Humpty and her child back to the castle in the sky, while Puss and Kitty escape.
There are lots of adventurous moments on the way to the film’s conclusion, and the movie offers a good time for all. It is almost the perfect film for anyone who likes talking animals. The film has been released both in a 2D and 3D version, and this movie is worth the extra charge for 3D.
The film offers great family time out. It is witty, comical and there is nothing in it that is objectionable. It is arguable that it is as enjoyable as the Shrek series, but if offers a great spin-off from an attractive character in that very popular series.
The fact that the film is actually a prequel to the Shrek series suggests that another movie starring Puss in Boots will shortly be on its way. Now that Puss in Boots has taken the lead role with such imagination, there seems no reason to hold him back.
Peter W Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.
Out December 8th. 2011.