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Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, October 31, 2011

Puss In Boots (2011)

If the "Shrek" films had done no more than introduced the swashbuckling feline, that would have justified their existence. "Puss In Boots" is a wonderful family animation, and by that I do NOT mean "children's film." Yes, your kids will love it. But they make it very, very clear from the very first minutes that this is also for adults, with multi-level humor that will soar right over the kiddies' heads, while adults are guffawing at what the filmmakers got away with.

Antonio Banderas is perfectly voice cast as the titular kitty, who wanders a fantasy Spain seeing to redeem himself from a childhood disgrace. Puss, it seems, grew up in an orphanage with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis. One of the great conceits of the film is the way humans and fairy-tale characters coexist without the slightest snicker) who betrayed their friendship. Years later, Humpty uses the delectable Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayack) to lure Puss into an incredible plan to steal the golden goose from Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sidaris). As one might expect, hilarity ensues...but more important (and impressively) so does romance, genuine adventure, heroism, and a meditation on the importance of both friendship and family. Surprisingly sexy but innocent, riotous and kind-hearted, loony-tune and classically structured, "Puss", unlike its progenator "Shrek" is more than a goof on fairy tales. It is more interested in the inner workings of heroic/romantic myth. Executive produced by Guillarmo Del Toro, it rests on a Latin sensibility that gives it a rhythm all its own. I couldn't believe it, I don't know where or how it happened, but dammit, I left the theater with a lump in my throat, and it wasn't the popcorn.

"Puss In Boots" is pretty close to classic. Banderas brings a full measure of "Zorro" panache to the role, and a sly reading to his lines (especially the way he says his name) that kept a silly grin on my face even between the dazzling set-pieces. Oh...and I forgot I was wearing 3-D glasses, probably the highest complement I can offer the technology. It was just...another world, where cats and eggs grow up together.

Oh...and some of the verbal humor is just pricelessly dual-level. When Humpty explains what his incarceration was like, he says: "You don't know what happens to an egg in prison. I can tell ain't over easy."

I just about choked. For what it is? An easy "A."


The thread of "Puss" is, of course, the Hero's Journey. All concerned clearly pulled from their own memories of adventure films, fairy tales, Latin music and Spanish visual design for this terrific movie. You need to dig deep into your own heart, memories, and cultural images in your own work, and theLifewriting Year Longwill help you do exactly that! Do you have your copy?


how to fix your credit said...

I just watched this movie 2 days ago and it was freaking funny.

Steven Barnes said...

And unexpectedly poignant!