Puss in Boots

What it's about:

Way before Puss ever met Shrek, our suave and furry feline hero goes on a swashbuckling ride, as he teams with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and the street-savvy Kitty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs.

What we thought:

After four massively successful Shrek movies, Dreamworks' first spin-off from the ribald fairytale animation franchise slaps on a new coat of paint, throws caution to the wind and sets off on a new adventure that recalls the wit and imagination of the first Shrek film.

In this prequel we meet the eponymous Puss, who was introduced in Shrek 2 (2004), as a wanted kitty. His face has been plastered on wanted posters all over town but the career cat burglar (geddit?) doesn't let this get in his way. He's caught wind of another major score - the fabled magic beans from the Jack and the Beanstalk tale which are said to be in the possession of the most notorious hustlers in the land - Jack and Jill.

However this Jack and Jill are not the sweet young children who went up a hill once to fetch a pail of water. They've been re-imagined as giant, odious drifters with hillbilly twangs and bad hygiene. And they're married, rather unhappily by the looks of it.

Puss in Boots also introduces a fun new character Humpty Dumpty (perfectly voiced by the can't-do-wrong Zach Galifianakis) another chancer who also has his eyes on the magic beans - but will his rocky history with Puss put him in even greater danger?

Joining Puss and Humpty on their crazy quest is the alluring Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a rival-turned-love interest for Puss who also serves to keep the plan on track as tensions rise between the two boys.

It's a strange brew but somehow the trio work together very well. There's a comforting familiarity in their dynamic that plays like a sitcom dysfunctional family and the humour just pops and sizzles all the way through.

The animators and writers seem to have a ball of fun playing around with comedy conventions, twisting them to delightful new shapes to suit their unique characters. The movie also offers an interesting look into Puss' upbringing with Humpty that will surely touch many parents in the audience. The sequence may not be as magical or iconic as the opening 10 minutes of Pixar's Up, but it's a heartwarming moment in a movie that otherwise shuns sentimentality.

Some of the humour might not register with younger kids - not that they'd care - since the Shrek movies themselves shunned cutesy humour in favour of something a little more risque.

Puss in Boots does not disappoint in this regard. It's a laugh out loud experience that still wears its big heart with pride and the action never quite lets up. Perfect holiday family viewing.

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