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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: December 1, 2011.

The cat. The myth. The legend.

The boots.

Leaping off the cliff and landing squarely on all four paws is Puss in Boots, an animated spinoff from the wildly popular Shrek movies. One of Puss in Boots’ most redeeming qualities, however, is that this movie leaves Shrek in the dust, where nary an off-color joke or double-intended pun can be found.

The swarthy character of Puss is voiced by Zorro himself, Antonio Banderas, and honestly, there could be no one else to fill Puss’ boots. Glint-eyed boldness, a lover and a fighter, a seasoned dancer (one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie), and a deep backstory—all make for a wonderful movie that was at times surprising and just plain fun to watch.

The only feline to match Banderas’ gato gusto is, of course, Selma Hayek, no slouch in the purr-worthy department herself. She voices Kitty Softpaws, a thief and Spanish siren, perfect to play opposite the gentleman paramour Banderas.

At this point, if cats could actually talk, I’d think they’d all speak with a breathy Spanish accent.

The story runs as the Rio Grande, deep, with twists, turns, and lazy stretches before the rapids and waterfall. The story begins with Puss looking for a score, and while trying to steal the magic beans from Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris, respectively), he runs into a masked thief who nearly bests him at every turn. After a furious Dance Fight, Puss’ seeming nemesis is unmasked, revealing the famed cat burglar Kitty Softpaws (Hayek). She is teamed up with Humpty Dumpty, they have a proposition, and that’s when the story gets good.

In a flashback, Puss, an orphan, blows into town in a basket and is found by Imelda (Constance Marie), who takes him in to her orphanage and raises him as her own. There, Puss meets Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), and a life-long friendship—nay, brothership—is forged. Humpty’s dream, ever since being a little egg, was to find the magic beans of legend. The beans, when planted, would grow a beanstalk skyward to reach a giant’s castle—and inside was the goose that laid the golden eggs.

As Puss and Humpty grew older, Humpty’s obsession with the beans and untold riches steer him toward thievery, while Puss, already an accomplished swordsman, chooses to “be better than this.” Puss and Humpty’s relationship is forever tarnished when Humpty tricks Puss into helping him rob the San Ricardo bank—and Puss is wrongly blamed for the heist—forcing him to leave town and forever run from posters bearing his likeness and a $500 reward for his capture.

From when Kitty Softpaws and Humpty reenter Puss’ life, the story becomes immensely enjoyable. Without giving anything away, Puss, Kitty, and Humpty’s relationships go through several layers, revealing deeper characters than Shrek ever mustered. Kudos to the writers.

Overall, Puss in Boots is incredibly fun. Seeing it with three kids ages 10, 8, and 3 (and each glued to the screen for longer stretches than usual) speaks to just how entertaining it is.

There are, however, a few adult nods and references that will hit moms and dads in the crowd, prompting them to whip their heads at their kids to see if they got the joke. Puss makes several references to how great a lover he is, and is even caught with “catnip”—although he claims it’s “for my glaucoma.” The first scene has Puss adjusting his hat and boots, leaving a female cat, implying that something happened that only naughty kitties do. He gets her name wrong, and promises he’ll see her again. Also, some dance moves between Puss and Kitty are a bit suggestive.

Overall? Entertaining. A wonderful spinoff with a surprising story. Puss in Boots just might even engross dog people.

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