November 6, 2011

Movie Review: Puss in Boots

Last year the fourth Shrek film was unleashed upon the world. It was not a good thing. Simply put, the character had lost any and all luster that it once had. Well, it did for me at least. I even recall stating that I was done with the character, I did not and do not care if I ever see the character again. Seriously, The first movie was quite clever, the second tricked me for awhile, but is still mediocre, then the third and fourth films rolled around were just horrendous, they just drove everything into the ground. So, when I saw that they were coming out with a spin off for Puss in Boots I was rather non-plussed. I cannot say I was all that interested in it, but then the trailers came out and there was some hope.

Well, now having sat through Puss in Boots I can report that it is a darn good movie. I will not go so far as to call it a great movie or one that is destined to stand the test of time. What I will say is that they did it right. They went back to basics and built a clever story around a character whose cache rests in his coolness. This is a cool movie, a fun movie, a movie that will make you laugh, it is just flat out entertaining. It is not a tale that will give you any insight into the human condition, but since when do all good movies need to? Is it not enough to be entertained? Yes, that is a loaded question, don't answer it. Just relax and go check out a fun movie.

Gone are the in your face pop culture references. There are still some in there, but they are integrated much more seamlessly into the fabric of the film, rather than being the punchline tossed out there and left hanging in search of laughter. Instead, this movie keeps moving right along, cleverly integrating jokes for youngsters and for adults, operating on two levels while never really pandering to either side of the coin.

The story takes us back to the basis of the original Shrek. It is a fractured fairy tale that takes us into a world where all the fairy tales of your childhood exist in the same world. We are introduced to Puss (voice perfectly by Antonio Banderas), he is an outlaw with a price on is head. He escapes his latest captor and heads into town. While there, he overhears a tale of magic beans (you know, Jack an the Beanstalk). Puss feels the need to get involved, you see, he has been looking for said beans for most of his life and they just don't exist. It turns out that they do exist and Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) have them. This sends Puss out on a mission.

While Puss tries to get a hold of said beans. This crosses his path with Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and his old friend turned nemesis Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifiniakis). This leads to plenty of confrontations, action bits, comedy, chases, and emotional catharsis as Puss and Humpty deal with their collective past.

The film unfolds in familiar fashion. It is not something that needs a lot explanation. Based on knowing about the beans I am guessing you can figure out where our heroes are going. It is not so much the destination so much as it is the execution. They did their homework, got a handle on these characters and gave them entertaining arcs.

Puss in Boots succeeds in making the fractured fairy tale work, bringing enough heart to sell the characters, and enough laughs and action to keep everyone interested. I loved how they used feline affectations to comedic effect, some were shown in the trailer include the milk drinking and being distracted by points of light. There are others that come into play, I particularly liked the first encounter between Puss and Kitty. I also liked the Western feel that the early and late moments brought with it, the Kitten with No Name glides into town... Nicely done.

There is a nice sense of cool and adventure permeating the film. It is also a plus that there is no crossover from the Shrek movies. Refreshing. I don't know what else to say. It restored some faith in the franchise, although I still don't want to see Shrek anymore...


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