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Movie review: “Puss in Boots” plies its puns with catlike dexterity

*** STAR RATING (out of 4) | Kid nip
By Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post Film Critic

Although “Puss in Boots​” is about a cat, it’s more a lark than a purrfect spinoff of the “Shrek” franchise.

If that pun made you wince, get ready for more from this breezily entertaining flick, featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas​, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis.

Banderas reprises his role as the ginger-hued kitty. Since Puss’ debut in “Shrek 2,” he’s had dulcet, accented charms and a way of melting all with his sad kitten eyes. Puss arrives solo from the franchise of Far Far Away for this saga of woe and possible redemption.

While the ogre series helped update the conversation about fairy tales for a new booster- seat generation and their chaperons, “Puss in Boots” is decidedly lighter fare. There are few lasting lessons of the ilk imparted by “Shrek.” Like its hero, the movie is pleased to be adventurous and winking.

Which doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of moments of irresistible silliness. Some of the most delightful come in tart observations about — and by — cats.

The movie begins with Puss’ first-feline narration of how an orphan became an outlaw. Wanted posters throughout the land (a dusty Spain with a hint of the wild West) capture him with those trademark pleading eyes.

In trying to clear his name and rob a pair named Jack and Jill of some magic beans, Puss is reunited with onetime orphanage pal Humpty Dumpty.

And what a visually intriguing invention Humpty turns out to be. His oval shape suggest a benign nature — and yet: This egg was the smart, inventive kid who was bullied. Is Humpty a good egg or a rotten one? Galifianakis keeps us guessing, maneuvering the egg’s petulance and heart.

Salma Hayek provides the voice of Kitty Softpaws. That’s not a pun on left-handedness, but on deft-handedness. She’s a gifted thief, trying to get her paws on the same magic legumes Puss aims for.

The trio undertake a zippy, zinger-laden journey to steal the beans that will take them to the realm of a giant and his famed golden goose.

Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris provide the gruff repartee of villains Jack and his mate Jill, who possess the incandescent beans. Massive personages with prickly attitudes and a band of wart- hogs pulling their wagon, the couple have a way of clearing a town square. Their banter also hints at a coarsening of fairy-tale shtick.

“We wanted to make Jack, strong, mean and vicious,” producer Joe Aguilar has said. Mission met.

Of course, “Shrek” and its sequels have always plied wordplay and visual puns intended to tickle adult sensibilities while sailing over the heads of the young ‘uns. Even so, Puss touts his own skills as a lover enough times that parents might want to ready age-appropriate boilerplate about that particular skill set.

Directed by “Shrek” vet Chris Miller, “Puss in Boots” has a number of visually winning scenes that exploit de rigueur 3-D tech to special effect. And the film’s hilarity often comes in the details.

Still, Puss recalls another big-screen swashbuckling scene-stealer: Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow​.

It would overstate matters to say “Puss in Boots” leaves its cat holding the bag (we had to get that in). But it also leaves its hero awaiting a richer fable, one befitting his charms and his portrayer’s talents.


PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor. 1 hour, 30 minutes. Directed by Chris Miller; written by Tom Wheeler; featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thortnon and Amy Sedaris. Opens today at area theaters in 2-D and 3-D.

Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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