My desire to see movies based on characters from the world of Shrek is somewhere between that of having my eyeballs poked with hot irons and watching an extra inning t-ball game. Thus, my expectations were not high for Puss in Boots. I’d had enough of the “let’s see how many clever pop culture references we can cram into 90 minutes of schlock” approach. Good news. The sword wielding cat movie is not of that ilk.
In place of rapid fire quips that will feel dated five minutes after they’re spoken, Puss in Boots is a modern spin on a mix of fairy tales. Puss (Antonio Banderas), we learn was once friends with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). They grew up in the same orphanage where Humpty was bullied and Puss came to his defense. Their friendship came to an end when Humpty pushed Puss too far into a life of crime, the final heist being the town’s bank. Puss left the town a wanted feline and his friend in the hands of the local authorities. The two meet again later in life when Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) encounters Puss and convinces him to join Humpty and her at finding the golden egg laying goose from Jack’s beanstalk. This is the mission Puss and Humpty had once dreamed about and worked towards in their youth to no avail. Now it’s said that the outlaws, Jack and Jill have the magic beans and Humpty needs Softpaws and Puss to help get the golden goose. The adventure dashes off from there with a number of twists along the way.
One of the most oddly conniving and original bad guys I’ve seen in a children’s film in a while, Humpty Dumpty makes the movie what it is. While the story is strong enough to hold interest, the sinister egg man makes the movie entertaining. He is an inventive choice as the bad guy who you kind of feel sympathy for until you realize he’s as much a weasel as he is egg.
Credit Puss in Boots for not resting on its main character’s heritage from the ever popular Shrek series. The breakaway from that tired series leads to a somewhat inventive and entertaining movie.