Puss in Boots (2011)

“Puss in Boots” mixes it all up, how it mixes is refreshing. Even more than in the “Shrek” movies, from which this likely candidate for a new animated franchise is spun off, it is a cheerfully chaotic jumble of fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters parachuted into a Spanish storybook setting. It also looks terrific: brighter, with a lot more visual pizzazz than the “Shrek” films. Even when the story loses its thread, the movie rewards your eye.

Now honestly, when I last saw the Shrek movies, it was not Shrek that caught my eye, it was Puss in Boots. Something about the way the cat stole the show and I thought to myself, “This would make a good spin off”. Well, I was RIGHT! So Hollywood, where’s my money

The tale, revolving around Puss, imagines this vain, spoiled, swashbuckler (voiced by Antonio “sexy like me” Banderas) with delusions of grandeur, colliding with Humpty Dumpty, the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs, Jack and Jill, and Mother Goose herself (I am just waiting for the day that they include Barney the dinosaur as a pimp and then we got ourselves a sequel).

Puss is given a tentative romantic interest in the feisty and seductive Kitty Softpaws (Salma “I wish she was my girlfriend” Hayek), who first appears in disguise and eventually becomes his sidekick and partner in crime. Kitty’s tragedy is that she has been declawed, but the movie makes little of it. Despite some perky quasi-flamenco dance numbers, their teamwork never quite soars into Astaire-Rogers heaven. (sad)

Puss has his charms,especially with those cuetsy eyes, but he is not as memorable a character as Shrek or Shrek’s mouthy sidekick, Donkey, because most of his charm is suppose to be sexy but since this is a kid’s show, you have a problem here.

Consequently the story, which involves a quest for magic beans and golden eggs, feels improvised and diffuse like “why do they need it and why it took so long to get it done?”. The most sharply drawn character, Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), Puss’s erstwhile best friend turned enemy, is also the most complex. Jealous and treacherous, but with a seed of good, he is an animated Rorschach test whose remarkably expressive features register more shades of ambiguity than I can recall encountering in a Hollywood animated character. There are many, many egg jokes like “I always knew that you were a good egg inside” -duh?

Puss and Humpty Dumpty first meet at an orphanage, where they hatch a dream of acquiring magic beans to grow a beanstalk that they intend to climb into the clouds to steal the Goose That Lays Golden Eggs. But the two are separated before they can realize their plan, and Puss becomes an outlaw. When they meet again, Humpty Dumpty is fuming that Puss betrayed him, but they reteam anyway for an adventure that involves some spectacular midair derring-do.

Good start, but hard to sustain it through. however the gags are furious and fast like the cat in the corner that says “OOOOOOOH” whenever a secret is reveal is priceless. However, the show is too complex and has too many changes of heart to be a smooth, coherent ride. Puss isn’t as clear-cut a personality as he was in the “Shrek” movies. The moral of the story — something about revenge and forgiveness — simply has little resonance. In Singaporean terms, its too CHEEM for kids.

Still I laughed why way silly until I realized I was the loudest in the cinema. Despite its shortcomings, the show is a must see for 80 mins of sheer entertainment.

I can’t wait for Puss in Boots 2, “Pimp City”. Now that’s a sequel.

4 stars of 5 stars (see it!)

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