I enjoy a good spin off periodically. Sometimes you get the pretty good ones like Chronicles of Riddick from Pitch Black (which is arguably a new and better franchise in and of itself and you get the not so great spin offs like the Wolverine movie. Yes that was a movie, and you just remembered it. This week I do a once over with Puss in Boots, the spin off movie from the steadily declining Shrek movies. Does Puss have what it takes to separate himself from Shrek? I’d think so. Find out why after the jump.
Puss in Boots is an origin story for the feline sidekick of the Shrek movies. Puss (Antonio Banderas) is out to clear his name of a crime he did not commit. Framed by his childhood friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), Puss is forced to a life of crime while in search for a way to clear his name. Years later Puss has a lead on some magic beans which would lead him to treasures beyond his wildest dreams. Between him and the treasure of the magic beans however are the murderous duo Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thorton & Amy Sedaris), the soft pawed female criminal Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), and an old childhood friend.
Puss in Boots, much like the Shrek movies, draws all of its narrative and fiction from other childhood fictional characters. Even Puss himself is (very) loosely based off of the French fairy tale of the same name. The movie takes a lot of liberties with the characters and changes them just enough to make them all cohesive and coherent to the overall fairy tale nature of the movie. Some of the changes I thought were a little stark like the change of Jack and Jill from being innocent to criminal partners. The comedy and dynamic changes really make Puss in Boots completely unique and of itself and unlike Shrek, Puss in Boots does not use the fairy tales as a crux to tell its tale but more as a background step for most of the jokes which is fine because I felt a little over saturated in the Shrek movies.
Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek have such a dynamic performance on screen (as seen in the El Mariachi trilogy). It makes sense to cast the two top Spanish actors in a Mexican themed caper movie. Zach Galifanakis is hit or miss for me usually in films. One could also argue that there is a heavy influence from Bandera’s first major role in The Mask of Zoro and that director Chris Miller told him to be Zoro, which for me is not a problem because I really like seeing cute cuddly Zoro.
After his break out role in The Hangover and his numerous standup routines Galifanakis has been gathering more and more steam. While I can’t say that I fancy his kind of slapstick humor none of it is present in Puss in Boots. Galifanakis‘s role as criminal mastermind is something that he normally doesn’t do but he excels at it which is different for him and I liked it.
If there’s one thing that you should take away from Puss in Boots is that Puss can have his own movie forever. As long as they stick with the subtle fairy tale references and stick with the made for children but written for adults theme, I think Puss in Boots would be a far better character than Shrek. Where Shrek was offensive to the eyes and ears, Puss in Boots picks up the slack by offering a delightful sense of humor and a wonderful set of animations, which is why I would highly recommend Puss in Boots to anyone.