Shrek was a monster commercial and critical success that spawned 3 sequels and now with a spin-off of one of the most popular characters, Puss in Boots. Clearly Dreamworks are no fools and with the popularity of each Shrek waning after each installment they needed a new franchise to keep them competing with Pixar. Like previous Shrek films, Puss in Boots has an all star cast including Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis.
Puss in Boots is an origin story of the eponomous cat Puss (Banderas), telling the story of his orphaned upbringing along with Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Galifianakis) and how bullying and a certain act f heroism from one of them sent the other on a dark path. Like the Shrek films there are references to other fariytales, in this case Jack and the Beanstalk, The Golden Goose and Jack and Jill. However there is enough perversion of the source material to make it all fit together and it ends up resembling more of a heist movie, with betrayals and double-crosses.
There may have been concerns that Puss in Boots might have been a step to far for the character of Puss, but luckily Banderas and his co-stars are more than capable to hold the audiences attention for the full 90 minutes. Once again there are enough jokes for kids and adults alike, as well as references to other famous films, notably a healthy dose of Western-inspired humour. The stand-out scene sadly, is a dance off between two cats that too closely resembles the Spanish Buzz Lightyear scene from Toy Story 3. Fortunately it remains funny and engaging throughout.
The real star of the show is Galifianakis, whose Humpty Dumpty is a fuly formed character from the outset. His path from bullied child to troublesome teenager all the way to evil schemer is perfectly pitched and Galifianakis appears adept at conveying a range of emotions rather than just relying on silly jokes and over-the-top mannerisms. He acts as a perfect foil to Puss in Boots.
Puss in Boots does not do anything particularly unique or original, but then why should it. The audience knows exactly what to expect and Dreamworks delivers this, while clearly holding something back for the inevitable sequels. It's funny and entertaining fluff, but unlike the first two Shrek films lacks the true heart of adventure, outside of Galifianakis. It is better than average, but only just. Hopefully the wealth of fun and adventure will be more heavily mined in future for Puss in Boots.
Rating: * * *
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