Andy Bockelman: ‘Puss in Boots’ is near-purrfect animation
November 13, 2011
“Puss in Boots”
3 out of 4 stars
Starring the voices of: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis and Billy Bob Thornton.
Now playing at the West Theatre and at Steamboat Springs’ Metropolitan Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.
Any pet care specialist will tell you that cats don't like being sprayed in the face with water. It may go without saying, but most users of a litter box also don't care to be smacked in the head with a guitar.
Luckily, we have cartoons like "Puss in Boots" to hammer the point home.
Some people know him as Frisky Two Times, some as the Chupacabra. But, most refer to him as Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas), a cat unlike any other, both because of his famous footwear and his legendary fighting skills.
His reputation among the people of Spain is a contentious one, with many viewing him as a no-good thief despite his benevolent nature. Stealing only to survive and associating with lowlifes is a lifestyle Puss has gotten used to, but when the opportunity presents itself to pull himself up by his bootstraps he'd just as soon turn his back on it.
His aversion to a better life is due to the one who's offering it, the last person Puss ever wanted to see — ex-friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), with whom he's had a massive falling-out. Old ties die hard though, and he agrees to partner with Humpty and his associate Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). Their mission is to intercept a pair of outlaws (Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris) in possession of a fantastic secret: the fabled magic beans that can grow to a castle in the sky.
After appearing as a sidekick in three "Shrek" movies and multiple holiday specials, it's a treat to see an expanded presentation of Banderas' most beloved role, with Puss bearing more of a resemblance to Zorro than ever. The knee-high, ginger-haired swordsman's well-known talents for cartwheeling through the air and hypnotizing adversaries with his innocent eyes are made all the better by his wicked sense of humor and irresistible swarthiness.
Hayek's voicing is just as good as slinky Kitty, a cat burglar in every sense of the term. If you closed your eyes, you may just think you were watching the two stars in "Desperado" and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico," except the occasional meowing and hissing might ruin the illusion.
Galifianakis is flawless casting as overenthusiastic ovum Humpty, whose obsession with chasing the magical beanstalk of lore has led to a few life decisions that weren't all they were cracked up to be. But, if you're pursuing the Golden Goose, you can't let things like common sense get in your way.
With far fewer fractured fairy tale characters cluttering up the story like they did in the "Shrek" films, this spin-off/prequel offers a clean slate for a franchise that was really getting to be too much to take. It may not have seemed ideal at first, but if the people of DreamWorks Animation were going to give any of the ogre's pals his own movie, Puss is the only sensible choice.
Besides being the most adorable of the bunch, he also serves as the most resilient comic relief within the series. Just imagine how unbearable a movie about Donkey would have been…
Fortunately, that's not the case with our feline favorite, a classic hero with an unwavering moral code, whose swashbuckling personality lends itself to fast-paced adventure and hilarity. Those spiffy boots also make for some really involving dance scenes with the kind of Latin energy that will make you stand up and shout, "Olé!"
Even though we're very familiar with its title character by now, there's a certain amount of freshness in "Puss in Boots." Whether he's lapping up a shot glass of leche or crossing blades with banditos, the escapades of this fuzzy fighter — and lover — are likely to remain one of your family's most memorable watches for the next 10 years.
And, that's 50 in cat years.
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