Family, 90 Minutes, 2011
If you follow these kinds of things you’ll know that Puss in Boots was basically a two-gag toss-away character from “Shrek” [IMDB]. You’ll also know that while “Shrek” was a wonderful, sentimental and deeply emotional fairy tale the rest of the movies in the franchise… weren’t.
So how does a cute, but otherwise fairly forgettable character from a franchise that has devolved into digital tripe fare when given the opportunity to carry his own movie? Pretty good actually.
Taking place entirely before “Shrek” the movie examines, mostly through flashbacks, the early years of Puss. His humble upbringing, the acquisition of his beloved boots and reasons for his fall from grace.
Using “Jack and the Beanstalk” as a jumping-off point, including Humpty-dumpty (as has become tradition, a sentient egg) as a main character and adding a feline love-interest for Puss means lots (and lots) of bean, egg and cat-based gags. Some of these fall flat but there’s so little investment in each and they’re so quick-fire that none of them hurt very much or very long. Also in the negative column are the rather bland and forgettable villains of the piece, Jack and Jill and the rather ramshackle story.
The movie revels in the main character’s (invented by the filmmakers, by the way) hispanic heritage. It may seem, from American films, like Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek are the only latin actors in the world but they have an undeniably infectious chemistry. The film oozes a subtle lust for life and a passionate sensuality that profoundly improves what otherwise could have easily ended up standard, low-expectation family fare.
While there’s no doubt that kids will like this (kids like just about anything, don’t they?) I was surprised how much I liked it. In many ways it’s nothing special and yet, similar too but not surpassing of, the original “Shrek” it has “something” that just makes it seem better than the sum of its parts.