Well I saw this on Christmas Day and I wish it had been the second film of the day rather than the first. We finished the evening with the bad taste of “Babylon” in our mouths, but the memory of earlier in the day helped because this movie is simply delightful. Sure it’s a kids animated feature, but the lead is Antonio Banderas doing the Puss in Boots character and he is exactly what a movie like this needs. Sly charm, cocky confidence and a little bit of befuddlement in his voice and you have a character that everyone will recognize immediately.
Two plot lines make up the story and they converge about halfway through in a couple of unexpected ways. Puss in Boots has used up most of his nine lives and has to retire to a secret identity as a housecat to a crazy cat lady. He is being pursued by a bounty hunter who is actually a more sinister figure as we find out down the road. He is also being pursued by others who want his assistance in tracking down a map to a fallen star that will grant one last wish. So there are a few fairy tale characters who get in on the pursuit and fit this movie into the Shrek Fairy Tale Universe.
When I saw the first trailer for this movie, I was not very interested. Something in the animation looked cheap and not up to the levels that we have come to expect from theatrical animated films. The word of mouth however was pretty positive and the grim “Babylon” looked like it was going to be our main option on the holiday, so I decided to take the chance. There is something different about the animation, but it was not necessarily bad. Most of the film looks like it is pretty standard Dreamworks quality, but the action sequences are stylized very differently. They are not bad but they seem deliberately distinctive which gives the movie a little unevenness.
There are plenty of slapstick moments for the kids to enjoy but there is also a quip, look or character to give the adults something different to laugh at. That is exactly the secret to having an animated film break out of the kiddie ghetto, Mom and Dad need to get something out of the movie as well. Of course my kid is now thirty four, so maybe I need to just accept that the film wants to entertain all of us. It’s been eleven years since the last “Puss in Boots” movie, and I don’t think the character or Banderas have suffered at all by the decade layoff.
If like me, you want the theatrical experience to survive, you need to support movies that are aimed at a general audience and legitimately try to entertain you. Antonio Banderas’ self parody is worth the price of admission, but there is more to enjoy as well. This may not have anything to teach our kids, but it won’t hurt them and it can bring you together and that is a pretty good goal in itself. So put away your catnip mouse and laser pointer and go out to see a movie. It may not be purrfection, buy it will provide a Meowy Christmas memory for you.