10 Dec 2011

Puss in boots movie review

The notorious outlaw Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), also known as the Gingerhead Man, Chupacabra, the Furry Lover and Frisky Two Times, wasn't always a legend – he had humble origins at a poor orphanage in San Ricardo. It was there that he was taken in by the kindhearted, motherly Imelda (Constance Marie) and befriended by Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), a forward-thinking, inventive dreamer with wild ideas of locating magical beans that could raise an enormous beanstalk to transport them to the castle of a giant. Awaiting them would be peril, glory, and a golden goose that lays solid gold eggs. Their childhood quest was fruitless, however, and instead they both started down a path of petty thievery – until a tragic night separated them for more than a decade.

During the Festival of the Fire celebration, Puss in Boots is approached by Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a highly skilled burglar, swordswoman, dancer and seducer, to aid in the recovery of the genuine magic beans. Her boss is Humpty Dumpty, and although Puss reluctantly agrees to join the group, he refuses to forgive the over-sized egg for the past events that split them up. The first step in their plan is to acquire the glowing green legumes from the repugnant duo Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris), which could be so dangerous they might not be able to proceed further.

You'd think that Puss' clunky boots would interfere with his ability to always land on his feet, scale buildings, and engage in all sorts of swashbuckling activities, but instead they're a significant part of the visual comedy and character design that makes the film such a striking work. There are also plenty of cute cat jokes and gags that contrast Puss' ferociousness with his diminutive frame and preference for gently lapping leche with his tiny tongue (along with his signature eye-swelling, hypnotic negotiating). A particularly funny dance fight, inspired editing to mimic live action movie-making, Dumpty's hilariously awkward image and background cats with strange voices ("Ohhh Cat" by Robert Persichetti Jr. being the best) are all elements that showcase the creators' clever artistry.

The laughs are mostly derived from situational comedy that makes Puss in Boots more universal than Shrek's pop-culture-heavy referential skits. The script edges in adult content too, subtly hinting at sexual innuendo, inappropriate tattoos, drugs, egg genitalia and nudity (completely inconspicuous to children), as well as darker themes of betrayal, imprisonment and death. But its overt adorableness subdues any negativity. The animation itself is of a superlative quality and the level of fast-paced action is superior to the last couple of Shrek sequels, with awe-inspiring visuals, complex stunts and truly suspenseful adventure, smartly utilizing a supporting role that never once hinted at the irritating nature of Donkey. Puss in Boots definitely deserved a film of his own and the lack of Shrek doesn't diminish the entertainment value in the least.

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