Witty, enthusiastic, charming and nearly purr-fect

2011-12-05 00:00

IT seems like we’ve arrived at a point where we just expect animated or sci-fi films to be brilliant. It’s almost blasé to write a review that makes mention of “great visuals”. But it really is worth noting in Puss in Boots, which is no exception to the landmark Shrek franchise and the more recent Pixar offerings. The advent of three-dimensional films has been a lot of fun, both for film makers and for audiences.

The Dreamworks factory has churned out another spellbinding feature-length film. It is worth making mention of this upfront.

That said, Puss in Boots isn’t exactly an overall revolution, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in wit, enthusiasm and charm.

Antonio Banderas returns as the voice artist for the famed feline in leather heels. As the prequel to his adventures with Shrek, the folks at Dreamworks have taken their cue from superhero genres and have scratched out an action-packed origin story for Puss, along the way donning references (in specific scenes) to Westerns, the Step Up dance movies and of course, the Zorro movies, which Banderas was involved in.

As Puss takes centre-stage, the film makers have hatched up a certain Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) as the hero’s accomplice. Growing up in the village of San Ricardo, Puss and Humpty meet at a orphanage where they form an unusual friendship. Through a series of events over their teenage years and subsequently, the egg turns out to be rotten in his schemes, as his master plan involves stealing the magic beans, possessed by the ogre-type couple of Jack and Jill (an ode to the first Shrek of turning stereotypes in their head). Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) is a middle-aged ginger who is broody after breaking his crown, and Jill (Amy Sedaris) is as much of a thug as he is. It’s all quite funny.

Humpty, Puss and love interest Kitty (Salma Hayek) steal the magic beans in an epic wagon chase sequence, which then leads them to the film’s stand-out scenes: The beans are planted and they are transported up a magic beanstalk into the heavens where lies a castle in the clouds — home to the golden goose that lays golden eggs.

The story unfolds as an action-packed fable loosely connected to a solid story of good vs greed. Banderas is a fantastic vocal for Puss, but it is Humpty who cracks the nod for best performance. Puss in Boots is a fun frolic, and as such, is near purr-fect. ****

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