With $2.6 billion under its belt, the Shrek franchise is no longer releasing new films with the green ogre leading the story. But the first character to receive a spinoff is Puss in Boots, and the self-titled movie is another animated crowd pleaser for viewers of all ages.
Described as a “sort of southern European Mediterranean fairy tale” by director Chris Miller, the basic plot follows Puss (Antonio Banderas) and his colorful friend Humpty Dumpty as they try to clear their names in their town by retrieving golden eggs from a goose far up in the sky. The story is set prior to Puss meeting Shrek.
Though you won’t find any familiar faces from past Shrek films in Puss in Boots, the new ones introduced are instantly likable. Puss must match wits with Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who gives Puss both a challenge and an attraction. Humpty, meanwhile, is voiced by Zach Galifianakis and provides the funniest dialogue in the film. The Shrek franchise has always been great at adding clever personalities to old fairy tale characters, and this film is no different thanks to this walking egg.
At a press junket for Puss held in Los Angeles over the weekend, Galifianakis told reporters, “The Humpty Dumpty character that I play – I never thought I’d say that in my life. Thank you Jesus. I think he’s a little all over the place. A little emotional, greedy, vindicative. But he’s legitimately an okay guy deep down in his yolk.”
(That’s not the only egg pun you’ll hear. They’re plentiful in the film and add to the character’s charm.)
Then there’s Jack and Jill who are much older than you last remembered them. Billy Bob Thornton voices Jack while Amy Sedaris powers Jill. Like Puss and Humpty, Jack and Jill are after the magic beans, which will provide wealth and riches to whoever possess them. Thornton jokingly described how the two came to be who they are in the film at the junket, saying, “In being able to make edgy fairytale characters, something went wrong when they went up the hill to get the pale of water. When they came down it was a whole new world.”
One of my favorite scenes was Puss and Humpty’s back stories where we see how they first met and developed a friendship. The two young characters are adorable and you come to understand a great story about friendship and trust.
I saw the film in 3D and found it subtle yet effective through most of the story. I’m not a fan of 3D but appreciated the fact that the filmmakers did not take it too far. They used it just enough to enhance the story but not give you any headaches.
Film aficionados will be pleased to hear that Guillermo Del Toro had an intriciate role with the film. Explained Miller, “having Guillermo working on the film was a blessing. I heard he wasn’t working on The Hobbit, then I heard he was going to Dreamworks. I had a chance to pitch him and he fell in love with it. He became an exec producer. He didn’t want to get too close to it so we brought him in every few weeks and showed him things like artwork, a character, a story, and he was great. He encouraged us and pushed us. It was a benefit all around.”
The humor in Puss in Boots can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. The screening I went to included several families, and most of the time I heard parents laughing more than the kids. This is because the laughter comes from some clever, thought-provoking writing that can be appreciated by people of all ages.
I definitely recommend catching this film if you are a fan of Shrek, animated pictures, comedy, cats, or walking eggs. It’s a definite crowd pleaser joining a long line of Dreamworks hits.
Puss in Boots hits theaters this Friday, October 28th.
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