- Rated PG
- Buy the BD
All photos © DreamWorks Animation
Reviewed by David Medsker
t made sense that when DreamWorks decided to put the “Shrek” franchise to bed, one of the supporting characters would receive his own spin-off movie, and there was really no question which character it would be. The swashbuckling Puss in Boots is both a lover and a fighter, making him ideal for action and romance, and plus he does that super-cute big eye thing that brings his opponents to their knees. Lastly, he’s a cat, and an animated movie filled with cats is going to be a heck of a lot more appealing to the senses than, say, “Donkey! The Musical,” the movie that is surely waiting for me in hell.
Puss in Boots, though, deserves better than “Puss in Boots,” which doesn’t have an original thought in its head. It’s thankfully less crass than the “Shrek” films, but it employs the exhausted ‘fractured fairy tale’ concept, which is a good seven years past its sell-by date. The human element to the story, as it were, falls equally flat. DreamWorks originally planned to send this movie straight to video. That would explain a lot.
Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), once a defender of justice, is branded an outlaw after he’s double-crossed by childhood friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). When he hears of a score involving magic beans, currently in the possession of murderous thugs Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), he sees a chance at redemption. He’s not the only one interested in the beans, though; the deft Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) botches Puss’ robbery attempt, and worse, she’s working for Humpty. Humpty, though, begs Puss for his forgiveness, and the three embark on a quest to retrieve the beans, plant them, and claim the fabled golden goose that will change their fortunes forever.
The beanstalk and the castle in the clouds make for some dazzling visuals, but as story devices, they’re pretty worthless. Jack and Jill are far more entertaining (the genius casting of both roles helps), but they’re kicked to the curb halfway through Act II. This puts the relationship between Puss and Humpty front and center, and it makes absolutely no sense. Once the Big Reveal takes place, Puss has a come-to-Jesus moment, even though it’s everyone else in the movie that should be having it. The “Shrek” films may not have been known for their nuanced storytelling, but what they’ve served up here is just lazy.
“Puss in Boots” is a great opportunity squandered, which is all the more ironic considering the plot involves a golden goose. Take the 10 bucks you’d spend on a ticket and instead use it to buy pizza; then spend 90 minutes surfing the Lolcats site while “The Mask of Zorro” plays on TV in the background. You 1, “Puss in Boots” theatergoers 0.