Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Movie Review: Puss in Boots

Puss in Boots ***
Directed by: Chris Miller.
Written by: Brian Lynch & David H. Steinberg & Tom Wheeler & Jon Zack.
Starring: Antonio Banderas (Puss in Boots), Salma Hayek (Kitty Softpaws), Zach Galifianakis (Humpty Dumpty), Billy Bob Thornton (Jack), Amy Sedaris (Jill), Constance Marie (Imelda), Guillermo del Toro (Moustache Man / Comandate).

I have for one, hope that the Shrek series has run its course. The first movie was immensely entertaining, the second one less so, but still fine, the third one pretty damn bad, and the fourth one a fitting end to the franchise. The giant green ogre, and his donkey friend, have nothing else to give, and I hope they stay off the screen. But Puss in Boots, a breakout star of the second film, offers new ground for the filmmakers to exploit. Yes, it still takes place in the same fairy tale world as Shrek did, but it allows for different characters to come to the forefront. This first, in what may turn out to be another series, is quite entertaining – better than Shrek has been in a while.

Antonio Banderas once again provides the voice for Puss in Boots, and in this film, it flashes back to his humble origins as an orphan taken in by Imelda. In the orphanage, he bonds with another outcast – Humpty Dumpty (wonderfully voiced by Zach Galifianakis), and the two soon become trouble makers. Puss sees it as innocent fun, and never wants to take things too far. But Humpty is bitter and angry at his treatment – and wants to pull off a major score – robbing the hometown bank. When the job goes wrong, Humpty is caught, and Puss has to go on the run. Years later, they are brought back together – and perhaps now they’ll be able to pull off the job they always wanted – robbing the giant of his golden goose. They may have finally found the magic beans necessary to make the job possible. Along for the ride is Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), an expert cat burglar.

Puss in Boots is a fun, fast paced animated adventure. It has the same style as the Shrek movies – and has the same irreverent spirit of sending up fairy tales. But free of Shrek, and his conflict with his wife’s royal roots – which took up far too much time in the later Shrek movies – this film is more fun. And because Puss in Boots and company are pulling off a heist, more action packed as well. Banderas has always been great voicing Puss, and he finds much help for Galifianakis, who proves to be a natural as Humpty Dumpty, and Salma Hayek – as well as Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris as the evil Jack and Jill.
Puss in Boots doesn’t reinvent the wheel here, but it doesn’t really have to. It is a fast paced, animated adventure, with enough clever one liner to make adults laugh, and enough action to keep kids satisfied. No, it doesn’t rise to the level of truly great animated film, but what it does, it does really well.

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