Finally, there’s a cat even cooler than Garfield who will win the box office as well as a place on your favorites list. His name is Puss, and he wears boots. From the pages (or animation cels) of the Shrek franchise comes Puss In Boots, directed by Chris Miller. Everyone’s friendly neighborhood orange tabby, who made a splash in the 2004′s Shrek 2, makes his solo debut in grand style.
Billed as more of a prequel hybrid, Puss (Antonio Banderas) begins the movie in high style, leaving his latest romantic conquest in James Bond fashion in the opening minutes with big fish to fry. The cat on a mission attempts to break into a hotel room occupied by the vicious couple Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). What could make him risk life and tail against the felonious duo? Try magic beans. However, there’s another kitty with those beans on her mind by the name of Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
After a dance battle that would even impress Bruno Tonioli and company, Puss and Kitty decide to team up thanks to the evil genius, Humpty A. Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). There’s no Humpty dance, but there’s a history between Puss and Humpty with scars nearly too deep to mend.
The two were orphans in the small town of San Ricardo before they both set out on different paths. It’s not long before the trio are up to their necks in golden eggs, before learning that all actions have a price.
Banderas channels a little of Zorro (where he also teamed with Hayek), and never misses a beat as the foil wielding feline. Proudly exclaiming “My thirst for adventure will never be quenched!”, you almost beg to come along for the ride. Banderas easily wears the hat of “Puss The Heroic” and “Puss The Rogue”, delivering snappy one-liners left and right. When caught red-handed with catnip, Puss proclaimed it was for his glaucoma.
Speaking of foil, screenwriter Tom Wheeler (along with Charles Perrault, Jon Zach, David H. Steinberg and Brian Lynch) produced the perfect one in Kitty Softpaws. Borrowing from film noir, Wheeler and Miller craft Kitty as the ultimate, animated femme fetale with an eye for pickpocketing and the seductiveness to tame even the hardest of ladies’ men…uh cats.
Kitty and Puss’ dance at the cat cantina features an electric duet (choreographed by Laura Gorenstein Miller of L.A’s Helios Dance Theater), and could well serve as a template should another director choose to bring dance to such characters.
Thornton and Sedaris as the (possibly) married siblings of Jack and Jill are scary, but have amazing chemistry despite not performing their roles together. I would never want to come between that duo and their magic beans or baby hogs.
Miller truly spread his creative wings in this not quiet a prequel of Shrek by taking the bold move of having no guest stars from the Shrek world make so much as a cameo. But don’t worry, Puss In Boots has more than enough gags, pop culture references, chase scenes and nursery rhyme fun to keep you laughing and entertained for a very tight 90-minute runtime.
He allows the story (and burgeoning legend) of Puss in Boots to stand on its own. He also makes the bold move of not only including 3D, but using its more eye-popping qualities which even his live action colleagues have shied from (not you, Mr. Cameron, I meant those other guys).
Puss in Boots may fall from buildings, beanstalks and the occasional giant goose, but this movie always lands on its feet.