Review: Puss in Boots (U) / Director: Chris Miller / Screenplay: Tom Wheeler / Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis / Release Date: Out Now
It’s fairly obvious that DreamWorks animation have turned a corner in terms of the quality of its output. Bringing in Guillermo Del Toro as a creative consultant was a smart move and one that seems to be paying off. Since Kung Fu Panda things have gotten better with each film they release and the fact that this summer their big release is another in the awful Madagascar franchise is a let-down. Puss in Boots shouldn’t work, seeing as it’s a spin off from the tired Shrek franchise but, against all odds, this is one of the most entertaining animated films for a while. Puss in Boots manages to balance the absurd with a sense of excitement and adventure that hasn’t been seen in a while.
The plot charts the back story of Puss before he hooked up with Shrek and Donkey in a land far, far away. Puss is something of a folk hero in the small Spanish town where he grows up, foiling crime and being donated his boots by the townspeople that love him so much. All is going well until his no good half-brother Humpty Dumpty ends up in hot water with the wrong people and Puss is framed for a major robbery. Puss is shunned from the town and we catch up with him when he is a wandering hero/lady killer who comes into contact with the thief Soft Paws. After an extended and hilarious dance fight sequence, Puss follows Soft Paws into a plot concocted by Humpty Dumpty to steal some magic beans from Jack and Jill (here reimagined as a white trash couple with some edgy incestuous overtones) to climb the mythical beanstalk to a kingdom in the sky and steal a golden egg laying goose.
Puss in Boots continues the new traditional DreamWorks strategy of great action, great characterisation and just the right amount of darkness. Gone are the days of endless pop culture references that will date badly and in its place we get simply brilliantly told tales of high adventure with a nice message that the kids can get behind but the adults will appreciate too. Antonio Banderas continues to impress as Puss with his sultry Latin tones really selling the Zorro-esque hero at the heart of the story. Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis play Soft Paws and Humpty Dumpty and are likewise great choices for their roles. It’s strange how in animation you always know when the right actor has been picked for the voice of the character as the animation starts to look more and more like its physical counterpart.
The humour is very clever and comes not just from the physical mannerisms of the characters but also from the fairy-tale tropes that the film introduces and then shatters into hilarious pieces. There are an endless supply of jokes about Humpty Dumpty being an egg and also Puss’ actual boots but somehow they never get tired and keep the laughs going right until the end. Even if you aren’t in it just for the yuks, Puss in Boots has some great action scenes. A chase through the canyons with Jack and Jill is a highlight as is the whole sequence of escape when they actually get to the castle in the sky. These scenes are brilliant because they manage to be exciting as well as maintaining the child like sense of wonder that is present in the best interpretations of fairy tales.
Puss in Boots is a great addition to DreamWorks’ ever increasingly appealing animation catalogue. It’s a film designed to appeal to both adults and kids and everybody in between and thus comes highly recommended.
Special features: Puss In Boots: The Three Diablos, How To Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular
Blu-ray Exclusives: A DreamWorks Fairytale, Puss' Paw Pouncing Challenge, The Animators' Corner, Trivia Track, Purr-fect Pairing: The Voices Behind the Legend, Deleted Scenes, Kitten to Cat, Glitter Box Dance Off!, Klepto Kitty, Kitty Keyboard, Fairytale Pop Up Book, Kitty Strikes Again ,Previews: Madagascar 3, Puss In Boots THQ Game Trailer, The World Of Dreamworks: Shrek, How To Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, Megamind.