Puss in Boots (2011)

Eager to right his past wrongs and reimburse the denizens of his home town, San Ricardo, after accidentally casting their savings over the side of a bridge, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) learns of the whereabouts of magic beans capable of leading him to the legendary Golden Goose. When he attempts to rob the items from the infamous Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris), however, Puss runs afoul of Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who subsequently leads him back to her lair so that he might be reunited with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), a dark figure from his past who was directly responsible for his banishment from the orphanage that they once attended together. Combining forces, they scheme to aqcuire the beans, ascend the beanstalk and kidnap the Golden Goose from the clutches of the terrifying Terror, providing Humpty’s treacherous ways really are behind him.

With the Shrek franchise having run its course (for now) and DreamWorks enjoying a new age in quality product (Madagascar 3 really does look fantastic), the studio revisits Puss in Boots under the watchful eye of Guillermo del Toro for an origin story with a delightfully Latino spin. Applying the brand’s subversive framework to another set of ripe old fairy-tales, director Chris Miller puts Antonio Banderas’ Chupacabra front and centre while crafting a narrative which takes in skyward castles, giant monsters and dancing duels. However, while Miller and star Banderas might have crafted a number of outstanding set pieces littered with delightful one-liners, the movie which attempts to hold it all together is a few golden eggs short of a two-ton omelette.

I laughed during Puss in Boots, I laughed harder than I have done since Shrek rediscovered its mojo in the ogre’s final outing; but, while the screenplay might be witty, the action exciting and the voice-work arresting, Puss in Boots is one of the most unrealised, half-baked and underdeveloped animations of the year. Scraping the bottom of a barrel which once contained such promising concepts as a talking donkey, a camp Pinochio and a lovelorn dragon, Puss in Boots is instead forced to settle for a nondescript couple who inexplicably raise hogs, an aged beanstalk climber who now grows beards and a talking egg which might just be the very embodiment of annoying (and creepy). Very few of these characters work alone, let alone as part of an ensemble, and the result is as far from the inspired and now classic alchemy of the original Shrek as its possible to get without casting singing chipmunks.

Let’s take Humpty, an American, clothed egg who once went to school with a class-full of Spanish children and a talking cat. He befriended Puss after the titular cat discovers Humpty’s eye for invention, and spend their childhood finding shapes in the clouds and stealing little boy blue’s lunch money. When Puss is rewarded for saving an old lady with a pair of boots and a hat, however, Humpty grows jealous and resorts to deceiving Puss into aiding and abetting the next time he’s running low on money.  Aside from the sheer ludicrousness of that set-up, it is a backstory which essentially halts the narrative and leaves you panicked every time another character’s gaze threatens to drift into the past.

Elsewhere, the film’s ethnic slant is little justified and never tied into what came before, Humpty is chastised for believing in magic despite the fact that he is a sentient egg, Jack and Jill remain jarringly underdeveloped and the same gag in which Puss has his boots stolen is repeated approximately three million times. As a spin-off, it would have been nice if Puss in Boots had taken the time – any time – to honour what came before after; a pair of cat ears adorning the DreamWorks logo, a mention of the world beyond San Ricardo or a shared musical cue – anything. That the writers also missed a once-in-a-franchise excuse for a “chicken or the egg” gag only makes matters worse.

A funny, exciting and perfectly harmless romp, Puss in Boots unfortunately falls short of being anywhere near as good as the original Shrek movie it’s a bi-product of. Antonio Banteras’ Puss might still be a thing of beauty, but his first solo outing is a messy, uneven and disappointing affair. This Puss might have boots, but he almost certainly doesn’t have the legs to fill them.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to Puss in Boots (2011)

  1. Pingback: December 2011 – I Agree It’s Not My Best Disguise. « popcornaddict

  2. Nostra says:

    I quite enjoyed the movie (the cat that says “oooh” was hilarious), but the twist at the end made everything before it feel really cheap. Why would everybody put themselves in so much danger?

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