Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Ah, Shrek. You are truly the Ogre who keeps giving. After four films featuring you and your pals you’ve stepped aside and given us “Puss in Boots,” a film that is simply, along with your studio-mate “Kung Fu Panda 2,” one of the best animated films of the year. Or any year.
Having graced previous “Shrek” sequels, the film finds our sad eyed feline hero reminiscing about his childhood as he plots his most daring deed. It seems that Puss (Banderas) wants to get his paws on the fabled magic beans in the hopes of nabbing the goose that lays golden eggs. This has been a lifelong dream of Puss, who as a young orphan became best pals with another famous nursery rhyme figure, the oblong (and very fragile) Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis). Currently the beans are in the possession of the hideous Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and his equally ugly wife Jill (Amy Sedaris). But, with the help of a new femme feline fatale named Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), Puss is sure he is the right cat for the job.
Playing like a film by Robert Rodriguez or Sergio Leone, “Puss in Boots” is many films in one. It’s an old fashioned spaghetti western. It’s a comedy. It’s a buddy film. And it’s in 3D! The film is anchored by the vocal talents of its cast. Banderas is smooth as silk as Puss, a tough talking el gato who will duel you one minute and then sweetly lap up a glass of leche’ the next. Hayek brings life to Kitty, infusing her with a toughness that belies her appearance. As Humpty Dumpty, Galifianakis shines. Beneath his beige exterior Humpty is truly a bad egg, and Galifianakis hits just the right notes.
The film also excels visually. There are several great set pieces throughout the movie, with a highlight being an initial duel between Puss and Kitty. That the battle is a dance off only makes the action more exciting. Like “Kung Fu Panda 2” before it, Dreamworks proves again that when it comes to animation and the 3D process, they are the tops. Director Miller, who also directed “Shrek the Third,” keeps the film moving ahead with a steady stream of visual delights. Dare I say, in honor of Humpty, that the film is “egg”ceptional?