October 28, 2011
United States (English)
Directed by Chris Miller
Written by Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg, & Brian Lynch
I just made occasion to pipe the praises of "Shrek Forever After," and here is a spin-off starring everyone's favorite swashbuckling Spanish house cat, Puss in Boots. He is voiced by Antonio Banderas who played Zorro in the contemporary reboots, a character to which Puss owes more than just his appearance. Everyone else is brand new to the series, so you won't see any ogres, talking donkeys, or troubled gingerbread men. Jack and Jill are a large couple of notorious thieves who currently have in their possession magic beans. You might guess what they are used for and you might be right.
I'm pretty sure I laughed more with this film than any other this year. It was bloody good time without any blood. One of my favorite scenes is when Puss chases a masked cat (a competing thief) into a feline catina. We think we're in for a sword fight, but it just so happens they strolled in on dance-off night and so they duke out their differences that way. Turns out the fellow feline is of the female variety (voiced by Salma Hayek). Together, with Humpty Dumpty (brought to complicated life by Zach Galifianakis - I was just glad it wasn't Seth Rogen) they plan to get their paws on them beans. The story that ensues is a splendid adventure that explores Old Mexico-esque setting very well. The plot twists and flashbacks make for a rich story of character growth and relationships. I deeply admired the filmmakers' boldness in the demise of one character. It is something we seldom see in a family film.
You'll have some mild skull-scratching questions when its all over, but nothing that is going to ruin the movie for you and nothing as harmful as thinking about the offspring of Donkey and Dragon (and how they were conceived) in the earlier "Shrek" films. I must admit, The 3D was splendid. Like "How to Train Your Dragon" before it, the talent at Dreamworks Animation serves a detailed feast of depth. The shadows and nighttime sequences herein are some of the best CG-animation I've ever seen. And when those magic beans are put to use (hint: a beanstalk is produced) I was blown away.
Might this be the best superhero film of the year? Hey, Puss is super and he is a hero. I've yet to see "Thor," but I have a hard time thinking that is going to change my mind. Please send all hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
(Author's Note: We've had a great run of American 3D animated features over the last couple of years with "Toy Story 3," "How to Train Your Dragon," and "Rango." Heck, if you can get through the un-encouraging first act of "Tangled" that deserves a place on this list as well! It is a bright future for the digitally animated feature film. We've somehow made it over the hedge.)
CONTENT: animated action, rude humor
Updated on 8/29/12