Any fan of the “Shrek” franchise will probably admit the Puss in Boots character practically stole every scene he was in. So that said, a spin-off starring the boot wearing furball was a no-brainer. Set before the Shrek films, “Boots” delves into Puss’ origin, which is cleverly fleshed out by screenwriter Tom Wheeler.
Puss, who once again is wonderfully voiced by Antonio Banderas, was raised at an orphanage in San Ricardo run by a loving woman named Imelda (Constance Marie). Shortly after arriving at the rooming house, the adorable kitten, and I do mean adorable, befriends Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis).
The alliance isn’t without problems, however. Since Puss is forthright and a cat of conviction, Dumpty’s immoral code and lack of allegiance to the town they grew up in puts a strain on their relationship. The vast difference in principles leads to a major misunderstanding that results in the termination of their friendship and the two go their separate ways. But as fate would have it, after some time apart, Puss and Dumpty are reunited when the swashbuckling kitty continues the quest they started as children, which was to grow a beanstalk to the goose that lays golden eggs.
It is during this time we are introduced to crafty cat burglar, Kitty Southpaw. Animated to perfection, one is hard pressed not to see similarities between the rendered character and actress Salma Hayek, who voiced the role. Eventually the trio bands together against the nefarious Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sadaris), taking from them the magic beans that will produce the beanstalk.
Unlike the Shrek sequels, what’s nice about “Puss in Boots” is that the humor isn’t solely dependant upon pop culture references. Sure there are a few here in there, but not to the point it would date the film in the future. In addition to the well-delivered comedy, of which there is plenty, is the fun soundtrack by composer Henry Jackman (“X-Men First Class”), who drew inspiration from Spanish composer Manuel de Falla y Mattheu and Latin artists Claude-Achille Debussy and Joseph-Maurice Ravel.
At the film’s end, in an emotional scene that surprised even me, parents will be glad to know the movie sends a strong message, which is that’s “never too late to do the right thing.” Per the usual, stay during the credits as there is more fun to be had during. As for the 3D in the film, it’s fantastic. There are two scenes, which I can strongly say benefited from the format. The first involves a chase scene between Kitty Softpaw and Puss throughout the town of San Ricardo. The second is the beanstalk sequence.
Hands down, “Puss in Boots” is an enjoyable romp reminiscent of spaghetti westerns and it is certainly better than the “Shrek” sequels, which deteriorated in quality over time. Director Chris Miller, who helmed the third “Shrek” film, should be commended for making storybook land enjoyable once again.
“Puss in Boots” opens Oct. 28 at a theater near you and is rated PG.
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