Anybody who even casually knows me is aware of the fact that I’m a huge, crazed, insane cat lover. Hence, I loved the Puss in Boots character the moment he laid his huge, dilated, precious to-the-nth-degree eyeballs on me back in Shrek 2. This all means that I was way pumped up to see the little guy get his own spin-off “origin story.” And as usual, my expectations were probably too high, and were only sorta met. Hmmppffff.
The story centers around the suave feline and what happened in his life before he met Shrek. Turns out he was a tiny, adorable, homeless kitten who was taken in by an orphanage, and became best friends/brothers (an egg and a cat? Okaayyyyy…) with the pasty, dubious, juvenile delinquent Humpty Dumpty (voiced by the usually endearing Zach Galifianakis). The boys get into their share of trouble and Humpty betrays Puss, who leaves town and becomes a fugitive, only to be roped into another of Humpty’s schemes later on, involving other nursery rhyme staples like Jack’s beanstalk, the goose that laid the golden egg, and Jack and Jill (a hillbilly married couple voiced by Amy Sedaris and Billy Bob Thornton – they did a great job but their characters just weren’t given enough screen time).
I found a lot of the nursery rhyme tie-in storylines (I know, I know, this is what the Shrek movies DO) to be kind of slapped together, as if they couldn’t really think of anything original for Puss to do. So many things are thrown at you, and I felt like not a lot of it stuck.
The animation is flawless and breathtaking, succeeding in making me yet again regret not pursuing my girlhood pipe dream of becoming an animator… but I digress. The Spanish countryside (I think they were in Spain? Mexico? I honestly have no idea) was dusty and golden and lovely, and once they get up that beanstalk, everything is green and lush and the clouds are effervescent and sparkly, and yeah, I thought it looked really damn great.
There’s a lot of “cat humor” that people who are obsessed with kitties will appreciate so much more than the average moviegoer (who probably hates cats because sadly, in my limited – i.e. ALL ENCOMPASSING experience, cats are like tomatoes: Most people dislike them) – the dance move “the litter box” where the kitties shuffle their back legs like they’re burying their refuse, the lapping of “leche” from shot glasses they order at bars, the cute little kitty noises, the batting at things, the purring, the eyes, I could go on. However, I honestly felt like they didn’t utilize enough of that humor. Every time Puss fights with someone, he fights like a normal person; only once or twice did he bat at his opponent with a paw like a normal cat, or even hiss – this would have been HIGHlarious, but they only employ this trait once or twice, and Puss fights A LOT in this movie. I guess this is a small complaint, and could only come from somebody obsessed with kittayyys.
Overall, it’s a cute flick. The vocal talent is solid (I literally don’t think anyone other than Antonio Banderas could pull off the sultry Spaniard), the visuals are gorgeous and the massive amount of children surrounding me at my screening (shudder) seemed entertained. I guess the cat lover and magic-expecting How To Train Your Dragon-devotee in me wanted to be enthralled with kitties everywhere and lump-in-your-throat special lessons being learned. I expect too much from a kid’s flick, but it’s only because I’ve been given all this and more many times before. Puss In Boots, while a fair addition to the Shrek franchise, just didn’t give me what I wanted, but if you want to be mildly entertained or need to amuse a child for an hour and a half, this will fit the bill.