Movie Review: “Puss in Boots”

Written by Pam-Marie Gx November 06, 2011

It’s not as dirty as it sounds… Or is it?

As the newest installment in the Shrek franchise, Puss in Boots tells the story of the cat version of Zorro (played, of course, by Antonio Banderas) and his quest to redeem himself after a misunderstanding breaks his mother’s heart. To do this he teams up with Kitty Softpaws (played by Salma Hayek) and Humpty Dumpty (Zack Galifianakis) to get the Magic Beans of legend from the outlaws Jack and Jill. It all takes place in what is probably supposed to be Mexico, with a nice Hispanic theme running throughout the film.

Now, this movie has been advertised as a type of origin story for Puss in Boots, telling of the events leading up to his heading to Far Far Away and meeting up with Shrek. Honestly, though, this story didn’t line up at all with the dark image of Puss I remember from Shrek 2. I mean, when Puss was originally introduced, it was as an assassin, the only one skilled enough to kill an ogre, motivated entirely by greed. It isn’t until Shrek defeats him that he starts to change into the less manipulative, more carefree cat that we see in the later films. This movie, however, shows a version of Puss who is concerned about the morals of stealing, constantly obsessed with righting wrongs. This really doesn’t add up, and the ending offers no further clues.

Speaking of not adding up, hardly anything in this movie actually made sense. For example, at one point Humpty Dumpty asks Puss not to tell the other kids he believes in magic. A talking egg tells a talking cat not to tell the other kids (one of whom is Little Boy Blue and actually blue) that he believes in magic. Magic clearly exists in this reality. He might as well have asked Puss not to tell anyone that he believes in gravity. There’s also a point where they leave someone abandoned in the middle of the desert, and next thing you know that character is riding back to town on a horse. Where did the horse come from? And don’t get me started on the design inconsistencies on Jack and Jill’s wagon.

On top of the lack of any logic, there were a lot of… umm… inappropriate moments. Puss twice calls himself the “Furry Lover” and there are a couple of instances where humans appear to look at Puss with sexual interest. I might have overlooked these as being innocent mistakes, an assumption that children wouldn’t catch any other interpretations of those words, except that there were also clear references to Fight Club. I understand that the franchise tries to appeal to both children and their parents, but I feel a Google search of “Furry Lover” might have been a wise move on the part of the writers. (Note: Please do not search that term. In fact, make sure “Safe Search” is on before Googling anything about this movie…)

There were also quite a few visual annoyances. Now, this might have just been the 3D version, but there were an excessive number of close-ups of everything. It was very strange. For a decently large proportion of the movie, all one could see was part or all of one character, even during action scenes. I often felt as though I was missing a great deal of the (admittedly well-done) scenery and character design, since all I could see was fur or skin or boots. They clearly spent a great deal of time and money on the CG for this movie, and yet they didn’t really let us see the extent of it. There were also a few odd proportions, but that was really a minor detail, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t so close to the characters at all times.

I’ve focused on the bad so far, so here’s some of the good. The acting was, for the most part, incredibly well-done. It was very clear that everyone involved was having fun with their characters, and it’s always entertaining to have Antonio Banderas parody his old role as Zorro. The interactions between Jack and Jill were often among the most entertaining parts of the movie. They had this casual banter going on in almost every scene, giving them a surprising amount of depth for villains. Jack, voiced incredibly well by Billy Bob Thornton, came across as an outlaw with a big soft heart, far less one-dimensional than, say, Humpty Dumpty. Having the majority of character development happen with the villains was a bit odd, but made about as much sense as anything else in the movie.

Overall, Puss in Boots was fairly entertaining, but a bit of a disappointment. There were some really well-done jokes and a large dose of the adorable (I admit that little kitten Puss made me melt with sheer cuteness), but they didn’t quite make up for the nonsense and technical problems that made up a great deal of the film. I have no intention of watching it again, but I can see how it would have appeal for some people.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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About Pam-Marie Gx

Pam-Marie Gx

Reader, writer, student, movie-goer, drinker of rum - Pam-Marie is all these things, and more! She has a large appetite for both media and caffeine, and spends most of her time with some sort of electronic device close at hand. You can follow her on Twitter @PamMarieGx. She may even occasionally be amusing.

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