‘Puss in Boots’ DVD Review

Director: Chris Miller

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayak, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris

Plot: Swashbuckling adventurer Puss in Boots forms an uneasy alliance with a childhood friend turned enemy and a rival thief in order to loot the Giant’s castle at the top of the beanstalk.

Review: Saying that the Shrek series has been running out of steam is like saying something really obvious. After a ground breaking film the studio was quick to get the sequel into motion. Also pleasing to fans in spite of the reliance on pop-culture references in place of actual jokes the next couple of movies for the series were hurried into production at the detriment of quality. Starting a new spin-off series without the bulk of the primary cast feels like their spreading the franchise thinner than they can afford especially after cancelling the 5th film of the main series.

This seems like the biggest mistake Dreamworks could make at this juncture. Except for one thing – it’s about Puss in Boots. And Puss in Boots is one of the most awesome characters ever.

Antonio Banderas could not have been better cast. Puss is a caricature of the cocky swashbuckling hero of yesteryear and Banderas is the perfect person to bring the confidence, charm and tongue in cheek humour needed to make the character fun instead of annoying. The over-the-top sword-slashing and chandelier-swinging antics are well juxtaposed by Puss being a diminutive little kitty whose instincts are often at odds with his intentions, creating the best comedic moments.

In this adventure, set prior to the events of Shrek 2, we get the backstory to explain how Puss came to be the hero we know him as. Not that it matters – we’ll accept him as he is without needed to learn his motivations and how he got his signature boots. Although over-played the backstory is well weaved into the real narrative, giving the characters and their relationships between each other some real context. The bulk of the story concerns old friend now betrayer Humpty Dumpty and legendary thief Kitty Softpaws propositioning Puss in Boots to help them in their quest to steal the magic beans from thugs Jack and Jill in order to pillage the Giants Castle at the top of the beanstalk.

By this point it feels like we’re scraping the bottom of the fairy tale barrel. Humpty Dumpty is…creepy looking to say the least and Jack and Jill are two random thugs given the character names for the sake of the theme. Considering the best new character is the original Kitty Softpaws it may have been better if the Fairy Tale motif was best left to Shrek and develop this as an original franchise. Leaving it shackled to the franchise that birthed it has left it restricted.

He's watching you sleep.

The story winds up feeling more convoluted than it needed to be (or maybe I was just having trouble following it since I had a terrible fever at the time) with a lot of back and forth between how can’t and cannot be trusted, flashbacks and recurring characters. Narrative-wise it could’ve been just as serviceable if it was more streamlined. Not that this is expected to be anything but a frame on which to build jokes and big set pieces. The action scenes certainly hold up to their end of the bargain with Puss and Kitty both being extremely well animated in their cat-like movements. The climb and later fall from the Beanstalk is impressive in it’s own right.

Now give them their own movie.

Given a bit of tightening up on a script level this could’ve been the saving grace of the franchise. As it stands it’s a fun little animated feature centered around the Fairy Tale Kingdoms most awesome denizen.

Score: SEVEN outta TEN