(2011) director Chris Miller
viewed: 10/29/2011 at CineArts @ the Empire Theater, SF, CA
Puss in Boots was not necessarily the most likely of films to which I would bring the kids. I’ve been pretty disdainful of the Shrek series of films of which this movie is a spin-off/prequel. And 3-D, another bane of my film-going existence has started to be shown at the neighborhood movie house, CineArts @ the Empire Theater in West Portal. I’d actually been quite grateful to them for showing only 2-D versions of many of this fad of greed films. But starting just recently, they now do both formats, which is good for them, I suppose. Bad for me if timing, being what it is, results in seeing 3-D versions that are currently $3.50 more expensive per ticket.
But the kids were interested and what with us having survived the dearth of kid-friendly movies that follows the end of the summer, I was more willing to give it a go.
Voiced by Antonio Banderas, Puss was actually one of the more amusing characters of the Shrek franchise. A sort of Spanish Pepe Le Pew with a little more Zorro thrown in. In this film, he’s teamed with Kitty Southpaw (voiced by Salma Hayak) and Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). Kitty is the female equivalent to Puss, just as sassy and tough. Humpty is a fretting bulb of an egg, a childhood friend of Puss’ who betrayed him in the past. They all team up to try to get magic beans to get the goose that lays the golden eggs in a crafty scheme. There are also Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) who are scheming to do the same.
Frankly, the film isn’t nearly as funny as it could or should be. The animation is of a high quality but I’ve never really liked the aesthetic of humans in the Shrek series. They are stiff and waxen and hyper-real but still cartoons in a style that I can only say sort of gives me the creeps.
But for whatever reason, I found the film more tolerable than I was expecting. The kids all enjoyed it (we had an additional 7 year old in tow).
Like the movie Rango (2011), though decidedly less so, a lot of the visuals play with the aesthetics and stereotypes of the Spaghetti Western. Puss in Boots, however, has even less of an agenda of being anything beyond a pretty straightforward kiddie movie. I tend to feel that animation always has such potential for the unusual or bizarre, and so many creative people are needed to screw in an animated light bulb, that it’s quite disheartening to see one that lacks wit and verve. Maybe it was just the lack of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy’s characters that allowed this film to seem less annoying to me (than its Shrek predecessors). I don’t know.