PUSS IN BOOTS
Before he met the ogre Shrek, Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas) had a complicated life in which he was smeared with the blame of a bank robbery in San Ricardo, engineered against Puss' wishes by Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), who was captured while trying to escape - thanks to Puss leaving him to his fate in anger. The two lifelong friends break up and it isn't until they re-unite that they trust each other again. But trust can be misplaced ...
Review by Louise Keller:
Itís not quite the catís whiskers, but inspired little touches, a lively script and a seductive performance from Antonio Banderas make this family fantasy a charmer. Post Shrek, the challenge for the filmmakers was to create a persuasive world for the well-heeled, sword-toting feline that stole our hearts in the land of Far Far Away.
The resulting film is certainly not as good as Shrek, nor does the Puss in Boots character quite live up to expectations. However, as it establishes the origins of the lovable green-eyed ginger puss, a fairy-tale infused reality unfolds involving a conniving Humpty Dumpty, a subversive Jack and Jill, a Beanstalk that sprouts beyond the clouds and an oversize Golden Goose. Audiences of every age can delight in the antics, adventures and cattitude of the lovable Puss in Boots.
Character is established by the first sprinkles of humour, succinctly shown in the opening scenes when Puss in Boots flashes his saucer eyes, bids a memorable farewell to a glamour puss reclining on a cushion and orders a glass of milk, which he laps up noisily.†
The plot quickly gets underway when Puss hears about some magic beans in the possession of Jack and Jill (Thornton, Sedaris), an unattractive couple who collect baby pigs. But there is competition to get the beans: in the shapely, seductive form of the black and white Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), who knows only too well how to meow her way out of any situation and uses her big blue eyes and pink nose to good effect. The Dance Fight, when the two cats click heels and show their moves is nicely done and watch for the sideline cat that strums a musical instrument resembling a fish skeleton.
With a thick Spanish accent which you could carve with a knife, Banderas injects his charm from the outset. What can I say, I was a bad kitty, he purrs, recalling the events that landed him on a Wanted Poster. Cat lovers and women will melt. In the back story, we learn an orphaned Puss became blood brother to a two-faced bad-egg by the name of Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Galifianakis) in the town of San Ricardo.†
Humpty is a rather irritating character; I kept wishing he would hurry up and have a bad fall. But thatís not in the storyline. Smeared with the blame of a bank robbery engineered against Pussí wishes by Humpty, there is now some bad blood between them, although Humpty tries to persuade Puss he can be trusted.
Climbing up the beanstalk high in the clouds, Puss, Kitty and Humpty find themselves a little portable pot of gold - a cute little yellow chick that lays golden eggs. Leaving the world of the beanstalk with the little chick involves multiple hazards and I like the scene when the protagonists cling desperately onto a champagne bottle cork, at the very moment it is popped Ė to be propelled over a giant chasm.†
There are a few double entendres for the adults, but the moral is for everyone: itís never too late to do the right thing. Chris Miller, who directed Shrek The Third is well in control at the helm, introducing audiences to what could well be a new feline-helmed franchise.
First published in the Sun-Herald
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Puss in Boots (voice of Antonio Banderas) was a hit character in the Shrek series, a supporting role with all the advantages of a smaller part and the benefits of being under-exposed. It generated great anticipation when he was to star in his own movie - all about him. The Zorro on four paws, the agile cat who was a hero from the moment he appeared on stage, was to have a great story told about him, and not in the rather large shadow of Shrek.
Our expectations have not been satisfied; the character of Puss in Boots has been diminished, the story is trite and meaningless and the hero's journey we expected is a lame duck . . . sorry, goose. The goose that lays golden eggs, thrown into the screenplay pot with Humpty Dumpty (voice of Zach Galifianakis) and the obligatory femme fatale, Kitty Softpaws (voice of Selma Hayek).
As insipidly imagined as is her name, the female feline and our hero are pushed reluctantly towards a pathetic copy of the Cary Grant/Grace Kelly romance in Hitchcock's classic To Catch a Thief. Bad idea. These writers and directors just don't have what it takes to deliver that.
But worse than that, they make a mess of the elements they do have that are original: the Puss in Boots character as created by Antonio Banderas in Shrek. This is trashed in what is a poor 'origin' movie that lacks the understanding to retain the most appealing characteristics of the character - an effortless and artless enthusiasm for life, coupled with genuine bravura.
The film is given every support from the technical and craft crew, including a powerful score and the most ravishing animation; extraordinary detail and invention marks this film on that level, with stunning visuals in even the most complicated action scenes. There are also some genuinely clever and LOL ideas - but that's not enough.
The story is itself a heavy handed, laborious mud pudding, with Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) a clumsy intrusion, the race for the magic beans a silly concoction and none of it making us care for any of the characters or the outcome. So disappointing.
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PUSS IN BOOTS (PG)
VOICES: Antonio Banderas, Selma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Constance Marie, Amy Sedaris, Constance Mane, Guillermo del Toro, Rich Dietls, Ryan Crego
PRODUCER: Joe M. Aguilar, Latifa Ouaou
DIRECTOR: Chris Miller
SCRIPT: Tom Wheeler (character by Charles Perrault)
EDITOR: Eric Dapkewicz
MUSIC: Henry Jackman
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 8, 2011
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.