Puss in Boots centers around the relationship between Puss (Antonio Banderas) and Humpty (Zach Galifianakis) whose childhood friendship was destroyed after Humpty violated Puss’ trust by tricking him into becoming an outlaw.
Reunited with Humpty and his companion Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), and against his better judgement, Puss agrees to help Humpty fulfill his childhood dream of climbing the beanstalk and finding the goose that lays the golden eggs. To achieve this they’ll have to steal the magic beans from Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) and stay one step ahead of the murderous pair to claim the prize.
The movie does a fairly good job at keeping the pace and action constantly moving, only slowing down to give us the backstory on Puss and Humpty’s childhood growing up together in an orphanage and relating the story behind the cat’s trademark footwear.
After retrieving the Golden Goose, the story gives us a (far too obvious) plot twist moving the final act of the film into the story where Puss in Boots overcomes a personal betrayal and becomes a true hero by saving his town from his estranged childhood friend’s nefarious scheme.
The animation is quite good; the film is the best looking of the series, although the animated characters come off better on-screen than their human counterparts. Puss in Boots is also a far more a straightforward adventure than any other entry into the Shrek franchise. There’s no smart ass sidekick or a message about beauty being more than skin deep being repeatedly driven home this time around.
Although it still contains countless fairy tale winks and homages, the script doesn’t get bogged down in them. The crux of the story centers around Puss’ relationships with Humpty and Kitty and their wacky adventures together. And for an animated action film it works quite well with several impressive chase sequences that should keep the interest of adults as well as children.
In a solid, but far from spectacular, year for animated films, Puss in Boots stacks up pretty well against the competition. I wouldn’t call it the best animated movie of 2011 (that I would save for Kung Fu Panda 2), but it’s certainly in the conversation – and far more fun that I expected.
Released Friday on DVD, Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray, the extras include deleted scenes, a featurette on the voice acting in the film, and a look at the world of DreamWorks Animation. The Blu-ray also comes with a digital and DVD copy of the film, a featurette showcasing the journey of a scene from storyboard to full animation, a collection of trivia and games for kids, and a new short film entitled “The Three Diablos” starring Puss in Boots partnered with three precocious kittens to recover a ruby stolen from a princess by the notorious French thief, The Whisperer.
[Dreamworks, 3D Blu-ray $54.99 / Blu-ray $39.99 / DVD $29.99]