Puss in Boots is effectively a Shrek spin-off. Puss was a wonderful supporting character in the second Shrek film, but is he strong enough to carry a whole movie? The cynic in me says this is just another way to cash in on the success of the Shrek franchise, and this will be by the numbers. Puss has potential, especially with names like Antonio Banderas, and Salma Hayek. Unfortunately that’s exactly what it is, a by the numbers, run of the mill, decidedly pointless piece of brain dead entertainment … Well some might argue it’s not all that entertaining.
Set many years before the events of Shrek, Puss is an Outlaw set on paying an old debt and clearing his name. He seeks to do so by finding the legendary magical beans, ascending the bean stalk they will grow, and stealing the golden eggs from the Giant who lives there. When he discovers that Jack and Jill have possession of the beans he seeks to steal them but is thwarted by Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). The plot is relatively straight forward but it’s told in a rather disjointed manner that doesn’t allow the characters to develop well alienating the audience.
Puss should dominate the movie, his charisma is fantastic, but his development is weak and he feels like a human version of an actor reading his lines off a script. That is a slight injustice to the artistry at working bringing him to life and to the voice work of Antonio Banderas, but the film doesn’t ever convince me that Puss is a character worth caring about, let alone interesting enough to watch.
This is perhaps the films biggest flaw, it’s just another run of the mill story and it’s parts don’t quite sum up to make it whole. Zack Galifianakis voices Humpty Dumpty, but he is as clichéd as they come and he never quite works as a character. Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris voice Jack and Jill, but they also lack anything to define them or justify their presence in the tale. There’s a number of giggle moments here, but never a laugh out loud moment, and certainly nothing that takes you to a place you weren’t expecting to.
Shrek amazed us with clever wit, excellent characters and voice work, and a modern take on the typical knight in shining armor fairy tale. Puss in Boots on the other hand might match Shreks technical wizardry, but lacks all the rest, which is to say it lacks the qualities of even a decent movie. It’s a sign that Dreamworks are yet to really understand what makes the magic produced by Pixar really work and resonate with audiences.I really wouldn’t even recommend this to families or children, it was a strong indicator that even the children in my screening were not having much fun at all that the film really doesn’t work.