October 29, 2011
Review - " Puss in Boots " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Puss in Boots
Directed by: Chris Miller
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Amy
Sedaris, Billy Bob Thornton
DreamWorks’ cunning casting of the silky Spaniard Antonio Banderas as
a swashbuckling Puss in Boots pays off, brilliantly, in “Puss in Boots,” a
star vehicle for the nursery rhyme kitty cat from the “Shrek” movies.
Thanks to Banderas and his Corinthian leather purr and writers who
know how to use it. This is no mere “Shrek” sequel. There is sex appeal
in every syllable, swagger in every line. And even kids get the joke of a
voice that sensual and grand coming out of a kitty so small.
“I am but a humble gato looking for his next meal,” Puss insists. But that’s
after he’s mentioned that, as a legendary lover and swordsman, “I am
known by many names — The Ginger Hit Man, Chupacabra, Frisky Two
Times.” So we know better than to take this con-artist, thief and seducer
His childhood pal Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) has a plan for
stealing magic beans from the burly thugs Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and
Jill (Amy Sedaris). If Puss can pull off the theft, there’s loot at the top of
the beanstalk those beans will grow into.
“We go up the beanstalk outlaws, we come back legends!”
But first, he has to get past a competitor, a cat-suited cat-burgling kitty
who turns out to be Kitty Soft-Paws (Salma Hayek). Before you can yell
“Cat FIGHT!,” they launch into an epic 3D flamenco dance-off. Being cats, their moves include one any dog or cat owner will
recognize — the butt scootch.
“How DARE you do the Litter Box to me!”
This quest will test Puss, and may cost him his boots. But a gato has his principles, a code he lives by. They need cash.
Maybe the local church?
“I do not steal from churches!”
Maybe from the homeless kids?
“I do not steal from orphans!”
Banderas vocally vamps this up in ways he never
gets to do in live action films. And the writers - Brian
Lynch, David H. Steinberg, Tom Wheeler and Jon
Zack - never forget how funny these words will be
coming out of that voice inside that itty bitty kitty cat.
A couple of dandy 3D chase scenes suggest theme
park rides to come, and the sight gags almost
outnumber the verbal ones. In a flashback, Puss and
Humpty remember the day they became “blood brothers” as kids - pricking their fingers and swapping blood…and yellow egg
yolk. Humpty’s “plan” for climbing the beanstalk is written on a child’s pop-up book. Director Chris Miller (“Shrek the Third”)
never lets this settle into the lazy “Shrek” music videos and pop culture riffs.
The comedy here comes from the characters, and the incongruity of that wondrous voice saying those dashing lines in the
body of a small, but not-remotely “humble” gato.