Puss in Boots Review
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When boot-sporting, swashbuckling kitty Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas) made his first appearance in Shrek 2, he gave the franchise a whole new swagger. So, now that Shrek’s story has (finally) come to an end, it seems only natural to hand the keys to the ogre’s kingdom over to his feline friend, with an origin story that blends Shrek’s familiar comedy with some cool new touches.

Puss in Boots turns back the clock, starting long before Puss had his first encounter with Shrek. For years, Puss has been running from the law, but he isn’t really a criminal. He’s just misunderstood—and he’s been waiting for the opportunity to prove himself.

When Puss learns that notorious outlaws Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) have gotten their hands on the legendary Magic Beans, he plots to steal them and finally repay an old debt. But the heist is spoiled by a masked rival, who leads him to a surprising discovery: Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis).

Once upon a time, Puss and Humpty were the best of friends—until Humpty’s betrayal made Puss a wanted cat. Now, Humpty wants a chance to make it right, and he wants Puss to help him.

As a spin-off, Puss in Boots has one major advantage going for it: Puss has always been much cooler than his bumbling green ogre friend, Shrek. And the character’s calm and composed swagger definitely comes through in his first starring role. He’s suave and charming, and he’s pretty skilled with a sword, too.

The film, then, is action-packed and fun—a grand fairy tale that feels a little more refined and a little less forced than most of Shrek’s exploits. This isn’t just a series of silly encounters with random fairy tale figures; it’s an actual adventure—an epic tale of friendship, betrayal, and the quest for redemption (albeit one starring an animated cat). Kids will love the characters, while adults will appreciate the inventive story.

The animation, meanwhile, only adds to the excitement. DreamWorks definitely knows how to create stunning 3D graphics—as they showed earlier this year with Kung Fu Panda 2—and Puss is no exception.

Unfortunately, though, Puss in Boots still retains one major element from the Shrek films: the incessant innuendo. While I can overlook the occasional poop joke, many of the adult references in Puss aren’t just unnecessary; they’re sometimes even inappropriate. Sure, they’re meant to entertain the grown-ups, but, at times, it’s taken just a little too far.

The film also tends to talk down to its audience—not only through the customary poop jokes but also with characters like the so-called “Ohhh Cat,” a big-eyed cat whose only job is to stand in the background and occasionally say “Ohhh!” to let audiences know when they should be shocked or amazed or amused. Really, if you think your audience needs to be tipped off that certain gags are supposed to be funny, maybe you should just make those gags funnier.

Still, despite the film’s flaws, the cool main character and his grand adventure make Puss in Boots even better than the average Shrek film. So if your family loved the ogre, they’ll love el gato, too.

Blu-ray Review:
There’s no shortage of extras on the Blu-ray release of this Oscar-nominated animated adventure. The special features menu includes everything from games and shorts to deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes features.

There are so many extras, in fact, that there just isn’t enough room to touch on every last one (and, to be perfectly honest, they’re not all worthwhile). But there are a handful of standouts, including Purr-fect Pairing, a short look at the characters and the actors who play them. It’s worth watching if only for a glimpse of Antonio Banderas getting into character to record his vocals.

Aspiring dancers may enjoy Glitter Box Dance Off, a short (and fast-moving) feature that teaches the dance steps involved in the big dance-off scene. And cat lovers will get a good laugh out of Klepto Kitty, a short feature about a real-life cat burglar.

For the best insider information, though, you’ll want to check out the additional tracks that accompany the film. For just a few additional tidbits, which can easily be absorbed while still enjoying the film, try the trivia track. There aren’t any voices or videos—just short snippets of information that appear at the bottom of the screen. Or, to go more in-depth, try The Animators’ Corner, a video commentary that includes interviews, animation tests, sketches, and a whole lot more.

Still, the best extra of all is Puss in Boots: The Three Diablos, a 13-minute short that follows Puss on an adventure to hunt down the villain who stole the Heart of Fire ruby from the princess. It’s a playful little feline adventure that Puss in Boots fans won’t want to miss.

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