One of the funniest and most fervently charming animated movies I’ve seen in a while, Puss in Boots hits all the right notes at all the right times effortlessly. This is a movie in a vein similar to Rango, and will likely draw such comparisons. It’s not a movie that has changed my life or made me rethink philosophical truisms; what it is is an extremely enjoyable animated ride with brilliant voice acting and impressive direction. Pixar, stand up and take notice. After the tired somewhat monotonous end to the Shrek franchise, Dreamworks has hit a home run.
The story begins with Puss (Antonio Banderas) in search of treasures and loot. While at a bar, he learns from one of the patrons that two outlaws Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris in hilarious turns as rednecks) have magic beans in their possession that it is believed can lead them to the ultimate treasure: a real goose that lays golden eggs who just happens to be housed in a castle in the sky (a bunch of different fairy tales meshed together in a hilarious mix).
Puss, of course, wants to go and get those golden eggs and he decides to steal the beans from Jack and Jill. These beans have a certain degree of notoriety, and it is not long before Puss meets some competition in the form of Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who turns out to be one of the best cat thieves in the world. Puss also runs into his old childhood friend, Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), a massive egg who had betrayed Puss in the past, hence alienating Puss from everything he held dear. Puss agrees to work with Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws after some coaxing. They steal the beans (in a fascinating canyon chase), find the beanstalk and manage to steal the goose from under the guardianship of Terror, a monster bodyguard. During their celebration, Jack and Jill get their revenge and knock Puss out. Puss tracks them back to his old hometown, where it is revealed that the conspiracy against Puss is much larger than he could have imagined, with both Humpty and Kitty having betrayed him. Puss will have to fight monumental odds to even survive.
Puss in Boots has some exhilarating action scenes sprinkled in with a shameless medley of fairy tale homages, all tied together by the pure enjoyment of the superlative vocal performance by Banderas. The comedy (“The egg betrayed me!”), the music, the flamenco dancing, the supporting cast and the direction are outstanding. The plot itself is quite thin, but in a movie with this much style, you can do without the substance. It’s got a bit of surrealism, it’s got a bit of action, it’s got some feline romance and it has a huge egg playing the villain. You really can’t go wrong with that combination. And while it’s probably not going to win the Oscar for Best Picture, it most certainly deserves patronage. Watch it!
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