Entertaining but Pales when Compared to the Shrek Series that Inspired It
Given the success of the Puss character from the second Shrek film onward, one would get the feeling it would take a lot to screw up the origin story. However, looking at the film as a whole, it certainly falls short of the expectations of the franchise on which it’s based. This isn’t to suggest it’s a total failure of course, so much as it seems the producers of this piece were oddly out of touch with what made the character (and the Shrek series in general) so endearing.
Coming in at runtime of 90-minutes and wearing an appropriate PG rating, 2011’s Puss In Boots set DreamWorks back $130-million. Believe it or not, the film was originally intended to be a direct-to-dvd affair before DreamWorks decided the character may have enough clout to potentially fill theaters.
The tale naturally revolves around Puss, and sets up the vain, confident, swashbuckler (voiced by Antonio Banderas) as a kitten with delusions of grandeur, made more achievable by an unlikely partnership with one Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Before long the pair is on a quest to find the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, in hot pursuit by a murderous, drunkard Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), and teaming up with the feisty and seductive Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
The majority of the film takes place in Spain and the surrounding deserts and while its visuals are undeniably DreamWorks, the film certainly lacks the vivid color pallet of the Shreks and instead relies upon a lot of moonlit and fire-lit scenes. Despite moody tones and a fairly convoluted plot-line, the characters themselves are animated wonderfully with the titular character hilariously alternating between pint-sized swashbuckler and run-of-the-mill feline with regularity.
The film is laced with a lot of salsa-flavored tunes and beats and there are a number of requisite dance sequences to accompany the rhythmic tunes. The pacing, however, isn’t quite as butter-smooth as one would expect from a big budget Hollywood animated film. Some of said dance numbers run on a bit too long and flashbacks to Puss’ roots disrupt the natural flow of the present (which, if you want to be technical is still the past in the mythos).
In all Puss In Boots is a fun film from the director of Shrek The Third though a strong argument could be made that this isn’t DreamWorks’ biggest or best animated feature. I’m of the opinion that the fairy tale integration isn’t near as subliminal or well-placed as we’ve witnessed in the Shrek films and the uneven pacing makes it easy for very young viewers to become bored with the story. However, the nuances of the characters themselves mixed with some moments of clever dialog do make it interesting enough for adults to sit through. In all, it’s a very good formula for a rental.