Monday, April 2, 2012

Puss in Boots

Directed by Chris Miller.
2011. Rated PG, 90 minutes.
Antonio Banderas
Zach Galifianakis
Salma Hayek
Billy Bob Thornton
Amy Sedaris
Constance Marie
Guillermo del Toro
Tom McGrath
Tom Wheeler

Already wanted for robbing to Bank of San Ricardo, Puss in Boots (Banderas) decides to steal the legendary magic beans. Planting them will grow the giant beanstalk leading to the land of giants. Once there, he hopes to steal the goose that lays the golden eggs. Getting the beans isn’t going to be easy because they’re possessed by the murderous outlaw couple Jack (Thornton) and Jill (Sedaris). Soon, Puss in not alone in his quest. He runs into an old friend that once betrayed him. The friend also wants the magic beans and has a plan to get them. Begging forgiveness and a chance to make things right between them, he enlists Puss to help him. This friend is none other than Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Galifianakis).

Like the Shrek franchise its spun from, Puss in Boots takes many well-worn fairy tales and breathes new life into them by reimagining the characters closer to our reality, yet still maintaining much of the wonder of their capabilities and surroundings. For instance, Jack and Jill haven’t only evolved into murderous outlaws, they’re also a couple arguing about whether or not to have a baby. PiB isn’t the outright deconstruction of fairy tales that Shrek is, but definitely views them through a wonderfully skewed prism.

Other genres are dragged into the fray and enhance the movie a bit more. Starting with her name and carrying through her actions our hero’s love interest, Kitty Softpaws (Hayek) is downright Bond girl-esque. There’s also nods to westerns, dance movies and of course, Zorro whom Banderas not so coincidentally portrayed twice for the big screen.

Speaking of Banderas, he is once again perfect as the sword fighting, milk drinking, lady loving cat. The same suaveness he brings to his live-action roles is translated in his voice-work. The rest of the characters were also well-voiced without overdoing it. Even Galifianakis, who has the showiest role, manages to keep it just restrained enough to not come off as over-exuberant.

More than anything, what helps PiB is that it has a freshness the last couple Shrek don’t. It’s not burdened by carrying on the whole of Shrek’s life and his ever-expanding family, nor carrying the weight of a franchise. It does enough of its own thing to prove more than worthy of becoming a separate entity.

MY SCORE: 7/10

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