In 2001, DreamWorks Animation released a smash hit in the fairytale-twisting story of Shrek. It went on to spawn three sequels (and at one time, there was talk about a total of nine films) before wrapping up its story in 2010. For the first sequel, Shrek 2, in 2004, a feisty feline mercenary swashbuckler named Puss In Boots was introduced to accompany Shrek and his friends on their quest. Puss, wonderfully voiced by Antonio Banderas--who had become popular on screen as the masked Mexican hero Zorro--became an instant favorite and was carried through the following series installments to the very end. With Shrek's final chapter in place, it seems only natural to take a look at another character in the series to carry the torch, and Puss In Boots does seem like the ideal character to make the focal point.
However, some ideas just plain sound better on paper and lose something in translation. Puss In Boots, the film, is an interesting mix of familiar and new territory, serving quite literally as a marriage of Zorro and Shrek. What I hadn't been expecting, however, was for Puss to be immersed fully inside the fairytale realm. In retrospect, it kind of makes sense, but those who may be expecting a more straight-forward Zorro-esque tale, won't really be getting just that. For example, Puss shares his origin story with the mysterious Kitty Softpaws, explaining how he had been an orphan and his best friend in the orphanage was--you ready for this?--Humpty Dumpty. Yup, Puss' best friend is a giant talking egg. In the film's story, our heroes go looking for Jack & The Beanstalk's magic beans, just to fulfill a childhood dream of Puss and Humpty's. The movie's chief villains are actually Jack and Jill -- two large, orge-sized humans who are married but look freakishly alike (Picture two giant, beefy people, each with a face similar to the "Do the roar!" kid in Shrek Forever After). They're pretty ugly and that just gives them more of a creepy feel than anything. While the Shrek films had more humorous and almost slightly likeable villains (like Farquaad in the first film and Fairy Godmother in the second), these guys just seem like unnatural villain choices. Who ever imagined Jack and Jill to be large, beastly villains? Meanwhile, Humpty Dumpty, who's voiced by usually foul-mouthed comedian Zach Galifianakis, is funny at times and darn right creepy at other times (due to the style of his face on his egg-shaped body). He's given some great moments in the film, still, but ultimately feels like he exists in the film to be the comic relief to Puss' straight man -- much like Donkey was to Shrek.
What does Puss In Boots have going for it? Well, Puss himself, of course. Also, Kitty Softpaws, who is voiced by Salma Hayek, is a great match for Puss and the two share some great scenes together. The cat-centric plot aspect of the film may be most appreciated by actual cat lovers, but Puss In Boots keeps things so diverse that it shouldn't alienate anyone who isn't a huge fan of felines. If you go into the film with more hopes to be getting another film like Shrek, you'll probably enjoy this one quite a bit. It's different enough from those films to not feel like a direct copy, but it did keep the the formula maybe a little bit too much. One of the most fun moments in the film finds the main characters navigating through a giant's world, and it brought back fond memories of Disney's own Jack and the Beanstalk movie. It did, however, allow for a weird scene where everyone speaks in a high-pitched, squeaky voice, but they thankfully abandoned the gag before it became too tiresome.
The content is about on par with the Shrek films, but they do play up the fact that Puss is known for being a lover more than a fighter. As such, we hear names he's referred to like "The Furry Lover" and "Friskie Two-Times," and the first scene we see him in, we see him dressing after having slept with a female cat. I'm sure the filmmakers just think it's a funny idea to think of Puss that way, and it will likely go over kids' heads, but it still is pretty inappropriate. There is a little innuendo here and there, while there's plenty of action violence and some intense scenes that ought to spook the younger ones. Overall, older kids will probably love what Puss In Boots has to offer, and parents shouldn't be all too bored, but it certainly isn't the best the DreamWorks Animation studio has to offer.
Puss In Boots is a fun animated film that mixes familiarity with just enough originality to not leave you feeling like you've seen this movie before. Still, Puss may struggle a little to find its own identity apart from the Shrek clan, but if there are to be any more Puss In Boots adventures, DreamWorks already has a decent starting place for possible directions that future installments could go in. It's a little crasser at times than some might expect from a kids movie, but it never goes so far over the line to become entirely family unfriendly. Those who have never seen the Shrek films may enjoy this one the most, but I'd love to see DreamWorks branch out from the comfort zone of the fairytale world a bit to broaden their horizons.
- John DiBiase (reviewed: 2/22/12)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
Puss In Boots makes its Blu-Ray/DVD debut as a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack, a 3D BD/BD/DVD/Digital Copy Combo, and standard DVD. In Blu-Ray, the film looks excellent. The warm colors of the southern setting makes it a real treat to watch in HD. Along with the feature film are the following extras...
The Three Diablos (13:05) - This almost-fifteen minute mini-adventure takes place right after the events in the third film and has Puss meeting up with three little kittens who are mischievous and just in the need of some serious guidance. Puss ends up helping them, and in the process, they all come in contact with a thief who stole a precious jewel. This villain has a pretty funny quirk that makes for some great moments in the cartoon. Sadly, he's dismissed before too long (with an excellent gag on his way out). I have to admit, I enjoyed this 13-minute cartoon more than the feature film.
A DreamWorks Fairytale - This is a kid-focused nursery-rhyme builder where the BD remote-wielder can choose a couple of different familiar nursery rhymes and then choose random words to then create a custom-made rhyme. Once you've chosen your words, a voice reads your rhyme to you.
Puss' Paw Pouncing Challenge - This is a BD remote game where some lights dance across the screen and you must move a paw-shaped icon--with your remote's arrow buttons--slowly to intercept the lights. It's not all that fun or exciting, though. The most frustrating thing about the game is that it's really quite difficult to exit out of once you've started it. I was stuck in a never-ending loop (you can't even lose to get out of it. If you catch zero of the lights, it still says "Good Job!" and asks if you want to start the next level) and I eventually had to just stop the disc altogether to get out of it.
The Animators' Corner (1:30:14) - Director Chris Miller and a team of producers and animators talk about the film's production, how Puss' world relates to Shrek's and how the look and art design differs. We also see storyboards and conceptual drawings as we hear from the art team about the look and feel of Puss' world. There's also an optional feature-length Trivia Track that pops up little tidbits about production, characters, design, set textures and details... and even a "Meow Meter" that counts how many "meows" were in the film.
Purr-fect Pairing: The Voices Behind The Legend (9:21) is a great look at the central vocal cast for Puss In Boots, primarily looking at Antonio Banderas' Puss. We then hear from Salma, Zach, Billy Bob and Amy on their respective roles. They also show some great footage of the actors in the studio while filming their lines.
Deleted Scenes (7:27) - There are three deleted scenes, all shown as animated storyboards, introduced by Producer Latifa Ouaou: "Humpty Plots with Jack & Jill," "Humpty Repays His Accomplices" and "Puss In Boots Fights the Giant." All three are pretty disposable, but it's neat to see the alternate climactic fight with Puss going up against an actual giant.
From Kitten To Cat (12:01) is a featurette dedicated to the progression of Puss over the course of the four films he's appeared in. It focuses on Banderas and how he came to voice Puss originally in Shrek 2, featuring some great footage of Banderas in the studio for each film. The featurette then covers the dance off in the film and how they choreographed it.
Glitter Box Dance Off! (5:01) is a fun little extra that shows three female dancers of varying ages and an instructor to teach viewers how to reproduce some of the dance moves seen in the dance off in the film.
Klepto Kitty (3:40) - This is literally a video about a real-life cat named Dusty who steals things from around his owners' neighborhood. The video makes light of the cat's thievery--an apparent 700+ items have been stolen to date!--but you kind of have to feel bad for the people getting ripped off of their toys, clothes, and other belongings.
Kitty Keyboard - I'm at a loss for words with this one. It's literally an interactive menu that lets you choose from four songs -- "3 Blind Mice," "Humpty Dumpty," "Jack and Jill," and "Little Boy Blue." When you select a nursery rhyme, it then plays the song set to a chorus of cat "meow's."
Fairytale Pop-Up Book - This is another interactive menu that allows you to choose from several characters in the film: Puss In Boots, Kitty Softpaws, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill. It then brings up a pop-up book page of the character, along with "Memorable Moments" videos, audio of a "Favorite Line" from the film, photo "Gallery" with artwork for the film, and "You know him/her from..." which gives a short bio on the character. It's kind of a pointless feature but it's something to keep fans of the film busy for a little while.
Kitty Strikes Again - This is a simple game of comparing two images from the film to find differences between the two.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 2/23/12)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Sex/Nudity: In narration, Puss comments on going by many names, and two of them pertain to him being a lover (The Furry Lover and Friskie Two-Times); When we first see him, Puss is next to another sleeping cat and he grabs his hat and puts his belt on, then accidentally calls her by the wrong name (insinuating that they just slept together and it was merely a fling). When he runs away after being chased, he says "What can I say? I was a bad kitty."; A man has legendary treasures tattooed on his body. When another man tells him to show Puss "the golden eggs," the man stands up and starts to undo his pants and Puss recoils in horror, crying out "Noooo! You've shown enough;" the man then stops; Puss lifts his leg and starts to lick what apparently is his crotch (we don't see it) and all of a sudden we hear a "Woohoo!" Puss stops, looking startled, and a man nearby says "No, don't stop on my account!"; In narration, Puss calls himself a "great, great lover. It's crazy."
Vulgarity/Language: 1 "Oh my G-d"
Alcohol/Drugs: We see men drinking in a pub; Puss shoves his sword into a champagne cork and uses the bottle's pressure to propel them through the air; We see Humpty holding a champagne bottle with champagne spraying from it; While going through his things, a guard holds up some catnip they found on Puss. He replies, "Uh... it is for my glaucoma."
Blood/Gore: We see three bloody scratches on a soldier's face after Puss accidentally scratches him
Violence: A man with his wrist chained up swings a pole at Puss and chases him around the room before he hits him with something that knocks him out a window; Puss throws a dagger at a wanted poster; Puss slices the moustaches off a few thugs and holds a sword on a man wielding a knife; A woman uses what looks like a handheld cannon to shoot a man (off screen) and we see them fall behind her, presumably dead; Puss and a masked feline make breaking gestures at each other (as in the masked feline will "break" Puss). A gunshot then shatters the floor between them and they escape out the window where there's some more gunfire and a chase sequence that follows. Puss crashes through a window and a crate of fruit; Puss and the masked feline have a dance fight where they smack each other occasionally and do a little sword fighting before Puss whacks them with a guitar; In a flashback of them as little kids, Little Boy Blue menaces Puss and Humpty, so Puss hits him with a spoon and then throws it, hitting two other kids who were harassing them; A kid hits Humpty with a tomato; Puss and Humpty prick their hands with a pin and shake them; A bull is accidentally released from a cage and Puss swings down, pulling the bull out of the way from running over an old woman; Puss slashes a soldier's face; Puss and Softpaws fight Jack & Jill, tying them up. Jill swings something at Puss and dangles Puss over a cliff. Jack and Jill then shoot at them multiple times, causing some rock pillars to collapse; A man hits Puss on the head, knocking him out. He then awakens in the desert surrounded by buzzards; We see the silhouette of Humpty being smacked against a hard surface with liquid spraying out, but we then see in actuality, he's hitting a champagne bottle against a surface and it's champagne spilling out; A sword is held on Puss; A man sprays Puss with a water bottle. Someone then tackles the man; A man throws a spear between Puss and Kitty. They then fight and beat up a few guards before escaping; A giant goose tosses a bathtub with a man in it into the air; A giant goose crushes a carriage; A bridge collapses, leaving some characters hanging; A character sacrifices himself by letting go of a rope and falling to their death; We see swords and spears being thrown at Kitty and Puss as they run away; In the closing credits, we see two characters in body casts laying in bed
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content. However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.