Sunday, June 23, 2013

Movie Review: Puss in Boots (2011)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Creative cast of characters, some jokes and scenes work
Cons: Predictable story, pacing issues
The Bottom Line
Familiar story
Fewer laughs than expected
Good, could be better

"It is Good to See You, Puss.  Are Those New Boots?"

I've enjoyed most of the Shrek movies, especially Antonio Banderas' character of Puss in Boots.  So when they announced a spin off movie focused on this character, I knew I'd have to see it.  It was diverting, but it wasn't nearly as good as it could have been.

Puss has spent the last seven years on the run, staying one step ahead of those who want to arrest him for the bounty on his head - a bounty for a crime he didn't commit.  When he hears rumors that notorious villains Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) have magic beans, Puss thinks this might be the way to make reparations and clear his good name.

The only problem is that Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) is also on the trail of those beans.  Humpty and Puss used to be friends and partners until one of them betrayed the other.  Will Puss team up with Humpty and his new partner, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek)?

It's not quite eggs over easy to place my finger on exactly what went wrong with this movie.  There are certainly some good jokes.  But it didn't have the humor of the earlier Shrek movies.  Instead, it felt like something put together because they knew it would make money.  I'll confess, it did get me into the theater.  Puss is usually one of the funniest characters, but maybe because he had to play the lead instead of the wacky side kick, he wasn't nearly as funny as usual.

The story is pretty much by the numbers.  I may not have had all the twists figured out early on, but there was little there that truly surprised me.  That's not the kiss of death for a movie, but there has to be something else to keep me engaged.

It doesn't help that the pacing was way off.  I spent much of the movie waiting for things to kick into high gear.  There are some fun moments of humor or action.  I did love the first fight between Puss and Kitty, for example.

Likewise, I enjoyed seeing how they worked various nursery rhymes into the story.  If they had put that creativity into the entire story, it would have been fun.  There is a very old west/Zorro feel to the film, which I found lots of fun and fitting for the character.

The animation looks a step up from the last Shrek movie, but it is still very stylized.  It works for the movie, and it never threw me out of the film.

Outside of the cast I've already named, most of the voice cast are unknowns.  In fact, I recognized quite a few of the production staff in the voice staff.  That's not a flaw of the movie, however.  None of the voice cast did a bad job.

In the end, Puss in Boots is a mildly entertaining film.  I would see it again, but I wouldn't rush out to see it again.

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