Monday, October 8, 2012

3 shrt pgrphs: Puss In Boots

2011, Chris Miller -- netflix

In Toasty's review not so long ago he mentioned that this Puss In Boots doesn't even remotely attempt to adhere to its literary roots.  Beyond the name it abandons all sense of the original fable... I guess... I've never actually read it.  I have little appreciation for the Shrek movies, which always play fast and loose with fairy tales, fables and myths, which can make for great fun, but it hoses any of that fun down with incessant jokes about bodily functions and general humor sophistication level of a twelve year old.  I wasn't expecting much better of a spin off of the series, but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised to find Puss avoided potty comedy almost altogether.

The film opens, quite surprisingly, with Puss in full-on lothario mode, attempting to sneak out in the morning after an overnight cuddle with a lady cat, only to get caught and chased down by the cat's owner and have to make a daring escape, titular boots in hand.  I was a little concerned, given the rather overt sexual innuendo of the opening minute of the film, whether I should be letting my three-year-old watch it, but thankfully that was about as explicit as it got.  The film loops Puss together with his orphanage pal Humpty Dumpty, squares them off against Jack and Jill, and finds him a love interest in Jack and Jill's pet, Kitty Softpaws (an odd nod to the Bond series with that one).  The Macguffin of the film, which doesn't present itself until past the half-way mark, is the goose that lays the golden egg, looping the Jack and the Beanstalk into the tale.

The story is a mess of fable mash-ups and net new characterization, none of which flow well into one another, and by the time the giant goose starts wrecking the town the film has jumped genres over a half-dozen times, from swashbuckling to adventure to western to, as David pointed out, kaiju.  The Desperado reunion of Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayak as Puss and Kitty is quite charming, and their fiery latin romance is the centerpiece of the film.  The same really can't be said for the rest of the adventure.  Though Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris make for a curious and amusing Jack and Jill, their contention with Puss and company never works well.  At the same time, Puss' relationship with his estranged "orphanage brother" Humpty Dumpty is unappealing, if mainly because the character design for Humpty is so unsettling and ugly.  The animation overall is pretty great, with the nuanced cat characteristics (like how Puss drinks his shooters of milk) the most amusing element of the film.  More palatable than the Shrek series, but still not quite up to snuff with best stories CGI has had to offer.