Long before meeting Shrek, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) — just named a hero for saving a woman from a charging bull — is run out of town on suspicion of bank robbery, even though the real villain is Puss’ friend, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Though there is still animosity between them, Puss and Humpty reunite to steal a goose that lays golden eggs. Joining them for the adventure of nine lifetimes is notorious cat burglar, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
For some reason, I’ve never really had any sort of strong connection to Chris Miller’s Shrek spin-off film Puss in Boots, which strikes me as odd considering the fact that when I was a little kid, that franchise meant the world to me. I watched virtually every single Shrek film over and over again when they were released on home video, but I remember going to see Puss in Boots with my mother at my local movie theatre, and after our initial viewing, I never watched it again.
Even though I was just eleven years old when this movie came out, it could just be that I was getting a little bit more mature and so, as a result, I was perhaps growing a little tired of all the animated films. Whatever the case may be, I don’t have any sort of strong feelings about Puss in Boots which is why I was quite curious as to what I would think of the film after my rewatch today. After revisiting it, I can say that it is most definitely an incredibly fun family adventure, even if it never quite matches up with the highs of the main Shrek films.
As fun as Puss in Boots is though, the movie does start off disappointingly slow. For about the first thirty minutes, almost nothing of real excitement happens and it was starting to worry me. I was praying that it wasn’t going to be the same situation as Shrek the Third where they think they’re making a good film by throwing a bunch of jokes toward you in the hopes that you forget about the fact that the story hasn’t kicked in yet. Gratefully, after the first act or so, the film picks up the pace tremendously and becomes a delightfully entertaining children’s adventure.
Despite the fact that the story does take a while to get going, the jokes are quite funny, as per usual with this franchise. Tom Wheeler’s script is fairly impressive for the most part and dares to go to emotional places that some of the main films didn’t go to. No, it doesn’t get as emotional as the ending of Shrek Forever After, but it still manages to get a little bit sad. Kids that watch this film will more than likely shed a tear or two and it’s all thanks to mostly great writing.
And, as usual, Antonio Banderas does a wonderful job at bringing the character of Puss in Boots to the big screen with his amazing vocal performance. When his character was introduced in Shrek 2, he became an instant fan favorite, and fans all around the world clamored for more stories about the iconic cat. I truly cannot imagine anybody but Banderas voicing this character. He feels so lively and full of charisma in the role and truly does an excellent job of making the role his own.
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but I feel as though it would be a crime to ignore the animation style here. Puss in Boots is a visually gorgeous movie filled to the brim with beautiful colors and wondrous detail. Whether it’s the streets of the small town of San Ricardo or the castle in the cloud ripped right from the classic story of “Jack and the Beanstalk”, Puss in Boots is a stunningly animated film. Even right down to the individual layers of fur on the titular character’s body, it’s shocking to see how well-animated the movie is, especially when you consider that it was released nine years ago.
All of these ingredients make up for a spin-off story that never quite reaches the immense highs that the main Shrek films manage to reach, but it’s still a heartfelt and exciting adventure for the whole family with tons of swashbuckling fun throughout.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor
Directed by: Chris Miller
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Running Time: 90 minutes