FIVE LIVES FOR THE SHREK FRANCHISE
Puss in Boots
Review by Paul Preston
Is it possible that this is the funniest movie of the year? “Puss in Boots” is certainly the funniest movie from the “Shrek” universe, and the funniest yet from DreamWorks Animation. This movie has a couple of theories of mine all out of whack:
– I always thought the way for DreamWorks to catch up to Pixar was to add more heart to their stories. “How to Train Your Dragon” brought heart and made for one of DreamWorks’ best yet. But “Puss in Boots” shows a strict adherence to always bringing the funny and works great! From the easy sight gag to the totally surreal, the filmmakers hit nearly every joke with ease and confidence.
– I always thought DreamWorks animation was sub-par to Pixar, but the detailed characters and inventive action sequences here are top notch. You could see real improvements from “Madagascar” in movies like “Kung Fu Panda” and that technical expertise is quite refined in “Puss in Boots”.
So it would seem that DreamWorks and Pixar are clearly leading the field in quality animation (sure Blue Sky and Illumination are making money, but their stories and artwork aren’t as good). The only thing to pick a “winner” each year would be “who has the better script?”. And it’s not gonna be Pixar’s year when they put out a car bomb like “Cars 2”.
The best thing about “Shrek 2” and “Shrek the Third” is certainly Puss in Boots. Antonio Banderas hatched an indelible character immediately, bringing a weighty gravitas to his lunatic surroundings, making for big laughs. I liked “Shrek Forever After” quite a bit, and again, one of the highlights was Banderas’ out-of-shape Puss in Boots. He’s certainly worthy of his own film, and director Chris Miller and the writers somehow craft a film where you never tire of the best part of Puss, those things you laughed at in the beginning, when you first met him on screen.
Kudos to the production team for also not falling into the trap of previous Shrek films. Outside of a “Fight Club” joke and a hilarious reference to glaucoma, “Puss in Boots” really lives in its time period, not relying on modern references and avoiding modern songs until the end credits.
The story (yeah, why don’t you tell us that, Paul?) is basically “Shrek Origins: Puss in Boots”, telling the tale of the feline adventurer on the run from the law, and his history with best friend Humpty Dumpty (still portrayed as an egg, although there is really no mention of that in the nursery rhyme). Dumpty re-appears and involves Puss in another adventure that includes a villainous Jack & Jill.
There are ingenious action sequences, romantic dance battles and a slew of other nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters who hilariously make cameos. The end is a hugely imagined adventure piece, with one character’s demise not cleaned up for a happy ending. The film must’ve thought that if you laughed through the adult humor and references, you’d be adult enough to handle the unclean finale, even if you’re not an adult.
Thank you, film.
Directed by: Chris Miller
Release Date: October 28, 2011
Run Time: 90 Minutes
Company: DreamWorks Animation