Copyright MainstreamMatt/Mainstream 2005-2011
This obvious cash cat is a welcome prequel to the increasingly tiresome world of Shrek, and it’s that context which makes this ogre free animation something of an unexpected treat.
Ever since the sword wielding, knee high wearing, wide eyed staring lothario stole the franchise peaking, Shrek 2, there has been a feline he would get his own solo outing at some stage. And whilst the magic of that pop culture heavy series of films may have worn off, being shorn of that baggage allows Puss in Boots to stand on its own two feet, or boots.
A wonderful prologue tells the tale of our abandoned kitty (Antonio Banderas), raised at an orphanage amongst human children, he soon befriends oval-shaped outcast, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Together they dream of finding that “golden goose” of all fairytales, the elusive “magic beans”, in order to climb the beanstalk and capture the, erm, Golden Goose.
Fast forward to the present, with some duplicitous behaviour from the rotten egg in the interim, and they are now sworn enemies, with Humpty devilishly claiming “you left me cracked on the bridge, remember? They wrote a song about it”. But fate dictates that they team up again and attempt to do what Jack did all those fairytales ago, and ascend to the giant’s castle.
It’s always been the smaller moments that have worked in the Shrek universe, not the tedious dance numbers, reality TV references, or dated parodies, and although there is an awful end credit sequence here, Puss in Boots thrives on such instances; the way in which Puss laps his milk from a liquor glass, the recalling of the “catnip” jokes, and bringing his mother a “gift”, are all throwaway gems that pepper the more run-of-the-mill aspects which are necessary to entertain the kids.
The flashback’s chronicling the friendship between Puss and Humpty is also a wonderfully judged riff on the superhero and their nemesis origins. Both Banderas and Galifiankis are stand-outs in the voice work department, the former having perfectly married his Latino larynx with the feisty cat, and it’s a chance for the Hangover star to play his most rounded, for an egg, character yet.
There is no denying the movie is sleight in feel, absent of anything resembling emotion behind the pixels, but its breakneck pace and seductively wide eyed appealing main character means that Puss should hopefully be cherished for a lot longer than Shrek ever was. And I don’t even like cats!