Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Puss in Boots

Director: Chris Miller
Writing Credits:
      Charles Perrault (character)
      Brian Lynch, David H. Steinberg, Tom Wheeler, Jon Zack (screenplay)

Voice actors:
      Puss in Boots -- Antonio Banderas
      Kitty Softpaws -- Selma Hayek
      Humpty Dumpty -- Zach Galifianakis
     Jack -- Billy Bob Thornton
Jill -- Amy Sedaris
Imelda -- Constance Marie

This is the backstory to Puss's meeting with Shrek and his friends. We are introduced to Puss as a dashing rogue, hunting for the Magic Beans and hoping to clear his name. Gathering information in a tavern, he tracks down Jack and Jill--who are not people you want to meet in a dark alley--and his clever plan to steal the beans is frustrated by another cat who is apparently also after the beans. After an exchange insults, a chase, and a very entertaining "dance fight" at the Glitter Box, we discover that the other cat is female--Kitty Softpaws--and in league with Humpty Dumpty. There is Very Bad Blood between Humpty and Puss, but Humpty wants to bury past quarrels, and join forces with Puss to get the Magic Beans, reach the giant's castle in the clouds, and steal the golden eggs laid by the Golden Goose.

Puss isn't having it, he doesn't trust Humpty because Humpty, he hints, has betrayed him in the past. Once, they were blood brothers. Now, they are strangers.

Kitty coaxes the story out of him, and we see Puss and Humpty's past, growing up in an orphanage, best friends, brothers, dreamers and adventurers. They're planning to leave and seek their fortune, when Puss becomes a local hero and more committed than ever to Imelda who has raised them and the village of San Riccardo. And we see how Humpty's frustration with this ends badly for both of them.

Kitty falls asleep during this story. The audience doesn't. It's an utterly engaging story, and you understand the frustration of both Puss and Humpty, and why Puss is reluctant to trust Humpty again.

Nevertheless, Kitty and Humpty persuade him that a partnership is the best chance for all of them, and they set out together to steal the Magic Beans and reach the golden eggs. Puss in particular has a higher motive for getting the eggs than just getting rich; he wants to right an old wrong and clear his name.

It's a wild adventure, very creative, with twists and turns and exciting visual effects that will keep children and adults alike enthralled. The characters are engaging and just complex enough--satisfying to adults without being too confusing for children.

Highly recommended!