Dreamworks Animation’s Puss in Boots may not be a masterpiece in the vein of some of Pixar’s classics, but nevertheless it is a very entertaining, fast paced and visually exciting (yes, I’ll say the oft-dreaded words) “adventure for the whole family”.
It is definitely much better than might be expected from a spin-off based on the swashbuckling feline from the Shrek series, to which this film is presented as being a prequel.
Similarly to the Shrek films, Puss in Boots brings together elements from different classic tales, allowing the film’s writers plenty of fun with out-of-place characters and referential gags. Set in an unnamed land reminiscent of the setting of a Mexican western, the film follows Puss, voiced once again by Antonio Banderas, as he sets off on an adventure to retrieve a bag of magic beans, which we learn he has been searching for his entire life. These will take him to a fabled castle where a goose lays golden eggs, but before he can do that, he must first steal the beans from the rather unpleasant couple of outlaws Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton & Amy Sedaris), who have no intention of parting with them.
In his quest Puss encounters an old estranged friend, a talking egg called Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zack Galifianakis) who grew up in the same orphanage as Puss, and who shares Puss’s dream of finding the magic beans. Humpty has a sidekick in Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a ninja cat with a talent for pickpocketing. Although Puss falls for Kitty pretty much immediately, Kitty rejects his advances. No prizes for guessing how that relationship develops…
The animation, and particularly the 3D, are a visual treat, and there are some pretty decent jokes throughout the film to keep the story going, with Banderas, Hayek and Galifianakis seemingly having a blast. And while the story does seem a bit too formulaic, I am pretty certain that the young target audience for this film won’t be complaining about the slightly uneven pace or occasionally excessive plot exposition in the film. They might also miss out on what’s so funny about the scene in which a tattooed character who wishes to tell Puss about the golden eggs gets stopped from doing so by a terrified audience. Consider that one a treat for the parents.