The cycle of Shrek movies has come (and mercifully) gone, but now we have a spin off— Puss and Boots, starring one of the best cameo characters from the Shrek sagas. Like most such movie series they start well enough, and then they run out of good ideas.
And most spin offs are even less original than the original. For an hour and a half, I was hoping this would not be true of Puss and Boots. After all, I am a cat fancier, a life long owner of the furry felines. And without question Antonio Banderas is an excellent Puss, a cat who is a cross between Zorro and the original tubby tabby of Dick Whittington (no relative of mine). I am sure that not in his wildest dreams could Antonio have ever imagined that his biggest roles on the big screen and his greatest acclaim would come from playing an animated animal. Life is strange.
Let’s answer the practical question first—- is this a movie suitable to take children to see? The answer is yes, and it may be better than Happy Feet Two as well, which looks like a nearly total rerun. It’s short, it has enough action to keep the kiddies watching, and the animation is excellent. No need to see this one in 3-D– its a waste of money. Don’t expect great humor or marvelous music, but the factors I mentioned above make it a decent film for families. You may have to deprogram your children’s confusion afterwards because the story is a conglomeration of a variety of children’s tales.
The not so subliminal message of the film is friendship and loyalty trumps greed and personal glory, and there are moments when you think this is a critique of our current banking and Wall Street malaise. Instead of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ this is Preoccupy Wall Street– create a diversion. As a divertimento, its enjoyable enough, but it’s rather like eating popcorn— very little kernel, lots of hot air. Missing in action are the usual cute adult asides which keep the parents watching the film as well. There is a rather feeble attempt at creating a romance for Puss, but alas…this fizzles as well.
If you want a better cat movie, rent one of the Garfield epics. If you want better animal romance, rent Lady and the Tramp. If you want a better plot go rent Who Framed Roger Rabbit. To borrow a line from that great film, I can just hear Humpty saying “I’m not bad….. I’m just drawn that way’. In the end, not all the splendid animation or CG in the world can make up for a lame plot or a hodge-podge.