PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):
Years before Puss (Antonio Banderas) meets Shrek and Donkey in Shrek 2, he goes on a heroic adventure teaming up with mastermind Humpty Dumpty and street-savvy Kitty Softpaws. He learns that the outlaw couple Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) have the magic beans he’s been looking for most of his life, beans that can lead him to a giant’s castle holding valuable golden goose eggs. When Puss tries to steal them from the outlaws’ room, a masked cat (Salma Hayek) interrupts. Both fail and escape, and Puss follows the cat back to the Glitter Box, a club, where they have a dance-off and a sword fight, ending when Puss hits the masked cat in the head with a guitar. He learns that the masked cat is Kitty Softpaws, and is shocked to learn she is a girl. She is allied with Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), a talking egg and Puss’ long-estranged childhood friend from the orphanage where he was raised. Puss tells Kitty of his feelings of betrayal for a youthful misadventure when Humpty tricked Puss into helping commit a crime. Humpty attempts to convince Puss to join them in finding the beans and retrieving the golden eggs, which he does.
The trio steals the beans from Jack and Jill and elude the angry outlaws in a canyon chase. As Humpty leads his compatriots to the spot where they must plant the beans, Puss and Kitty’s relationship begins to grow from rivalry into friendship. The trio ride the fast-growing beanstalk into the clouds where, Humpty explains, they’ll find the castle of the late giant, while trying to avoid a fearsome monster called the Terror who guards the Golden Goose. When they realize the golden eggs are too heavy to carry, they steal the Goose — which is just a gosling — and escape the castle and the Terror. While celebrating their victory, the group is ambushed by Jack and Jill, who knock Puss unconscious.
When Puss wakes up, he tracks Jack and Jill back to his old hometown, where he learns that the entire heist was a plot by Humpty to lure him home to be captured, as revenge for abandoning him to the authorities when Humpty’s youthful heist went bad. Jack, Jill, and even Kitty were involved in the con. After pleas from his adoptive mother, the head of the orphanage, Puss turns himself in to the guards while Humpty donates many golden eggs to the town and becomes a hero.
While in prison, Puss meets the original Jack from the “Jack and the Beanstalk” (a.k.a. Andy Beanstalk) story who warns him that the Terror is in fact the Golden Goose’s mother, and it will stop at nothing to get its child back. A repentant Kitty helps Puss break out of prison and tells him that she loves him more than gold. Puss convinces Humpty to help him fight off the Terror, saying he knows Humpty is a good person at heart, and he will be forgiven if he helps save the town. The Terror arrives, revealing itself to be a giant goose, aka Mother Goose. Using the Golden Goose as bait, Puss and Humpty lure the Terror out of the town, but Humpty and the Goose are knocked off a bridge with Puss holding on to them. Humpty knows Puss cannot hold both of them, and he lets go, sacrificing himself to save the Goose and the town. Humpty’s shell cracks open to reveal that he was a golden egg on the inside. The Terror then takes the Goose and Humpty away back to the giant’s castle.
Puss is forced to flee because he is still an outlaw, but his efforts to save the town make him a hero among the townspeople. Puss and Kitty escape the guards once more, and Kitty says she will see him again soon, showing that she has taken his boots. In the epilogue, Jack and Jill are recovering from their injuries after being crushed by the Terror, Humpty is shown once again in his regular egg form, wearing a golden egg suit, as he rides the Terror into the clouds, and Puss and Kitty head back to dance at the Glitter Box, where they finally kiss.
From the moment we were first introduced to Puss in Shrek 2, it was quite obvious this was a character destined for bigger and better things, such as his own spinoff. The wait for this film has been a long and tedious one, filled with a couple of exceedingly bad and unnecessary Shrek film, but finally we have Puss in Boots!
I don’t recall what the original tale of Puss involved, but I’m pretty certain it didn’t involve an orphanage, Humpty Dumpty, and of course Jack & Jill. However, while this isn’t a Shrek picture, it is still taking place in the same universe where fairy tale creatures all live together. There are some out there who thought this was going to really deviate from the franchise’s formula, so rest assured it doesn’t.
Let’s cover the good first, shall we? It was great to see, um, hear Antonio Banderas back with Salma Hayek. With the great chemistry these two have, you’d think we’d see them together as often as audiences of yesteryear got to enjoy Ginger Roger and Fred Astaire.
Animation is top-notch, though not Pixar level, and just goes to show how far technology has come since our first introduction to the character.
The action scenes are awesome! Seriously, do you expect less from Puss in Boots? The best one, though, has to be the initial, for lack of a better term, catfight between Puss and the mysterious masked cat (who turns out to be Kitty Softpaws).
Some may not agree with me on this, but I like how this film was totally removed from anything to do with Shrek. There wasn’t a cameo, poster, or anything involving any of those characters. While some may think it may have been nice to see them, I happen to think it would have been nothing more than beating a dead horse, especially after the last two films proved that Shrek should have been left alone after 2 films. There is also the little fact that this takes place long before Puss is hired to assassinate Shrek, and is also in what appears to be a different country, so why would Shrek be foisted upon us in Puss’ feature film?
Now, onto the bad…
The story was alright. I actually liked it, but when they started going into flashback mode, I started dozing off. Ironically, Kitty does the same thing. I’m not saying anything needed to be changed in the way the plot went, but they could have done something to make the flashbacks more interesting.
Humpty Dumpty just did not appeal to me. Firstly, he doesn’t quite fit in. If you will notice, everyone speaks with some sort of Hispanic accent, yet Humpty is as American as they come! This really took away the believability of his character for me. Couple that with the fact that Zach Galifianakis is slowly but surely becoming more annoying than Jack Black, if that’s possible. As much as studios seem to like using George Lopez, Cheech Marin, or even Danny Trejo, you would think they’d have used them instead.
Keeping on the topic of Galifianakis, the guy just does not have any kind of charisma and definitely lacks chemistry with Hayek and Banderas. In other words, he’s severely miscast, in my opinion.
Jack & Jill are the secondary antagonists, but they are underused. With this gross re-imagining of them, one would think the filmmakers would have taken advantage and done something really interesting with the characters, but that wasn’t the case.
If there was one flashback we could have used, I think we all agree seeing Humpty Dumpty fall off the wall and learning how he got put back together again would have been great. Also, I’m curious how the goose survived up there on the beanstalk if the giants have been long dead.
So, as you can see there are plenty of good and bad things about this film, but the most important thing is that, despite its faults, it really is an entertaining flick, and a much-needed breath of life in the Shrek franchise. I haven’t heard of any sequel in the works, but if they do decide to go that route, they better not ruin Puss in the same way. All in all, this is a great film that I hope you all take the time to check out!
4 1/2 out of 5 stars