“You can’t run forever, Puss in Boots!”
So shouts a helpless victim to the title character in this new film about the cat originally introduced in 'Shrek 2.' Voiced by Antonio Banderas, Puss is the feline outlaw known for his swashbuckling skills. The 'Shrek' series cast Puss as a supporting character, but the spinoff feature offers a glimpse into the life of the young cat before he met the big, green ogre and friends.
'Shrek' fans burned out by the franchise's sequels will find 'Puss in Boots' offering a fresh story jam-packed with fun characters and witty dialogue.
As the story starts out, Puss is a successful but diminutive thief. When he walks into a bar, the patrons inevitably mock him, and one even knocks down the stool he’s sitting on. Everyone underestimates the cat, especially when when he's lapping at his bowl of milk. However, when he gets a chance to prove his mettle, he shows what a tough guy he can be.
Soon enough, Puss decides to rob the murderous thieves Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) of their magic beans. Unfortunately, his theft attempt is ruined by a feline felon named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who has other plans for Puss.
Kitty is trying to reunite Puss with his former best friend, Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). A series of flashbacks reveal how the friends met and what eventually drove them apart. However, Humpty wants to rekindle the friendship and work with Puss on a plan to steal Jack and Jill's beans.
'Puss in Boots' is directed by Chris Miller, who previously shot 'Shrek the Third' and who helped write the original three films in that series. 'Shrek' fans will appreciate 'Puss' and how it tries to replicate the formula that worked so well in the early 'Shrek' films. 'Puss' revels in its ability to update and make jokes about well-known fairy tales. 'Puss' turns the story of 'Jack and Jill' upside down and includes references to 'Jack and the Beanstalk,' the goose who laid the gold egg and many other tales.
The characters in this story are also well-written, and the back story adds a nice touch. The friendship between Humpty and Puss is seen from its infancy as the two boys grew up together in a small town.
Ultimately, 'Puss in Boots' is unable to replicate the power and wonder of Pixar's best films like 'Up' and 'Toy Story,' but it's a solid and comical animated film families can enjoy. Parents will relish the cheeky references to well-known fairy tales, and children will like watching the characters at play. For those who thought the 'Shrek' series was running out of gas, 'Puss in Boots' definitely revitalizes the same brand of humor and reminds us why the 'Shrek' films were so much fun in the first place.