Shrek was an animation sensation when it hit theaters back in 2001. Shrek 2 (2004) kept the series afloat with more clever fairytale culture references and jokes. However, the only thing that really came out of the sequel was the furry feline sidekick Shrek and Donkey acquired along the way, Antonio Banderas’s Puss… In Boots! While this kitty cat stole the show, did he necessarily earn a spinoff prequel? Since this film was originally intended to be a Direct-to-DVD feature… Not really.
In this animated re-imagining of Puss In Boots’s origins, we find Puss growing up as an orphan with his only friend, Humpty Dumpty. Years later, Puss is branded as an outlaw and no longer associated with Humpty. In need of dinero for cream and milk, Puss undertakes a quest, with his new friend Kitty Softpaws, to steal magic beans.
With such a stellar cast, one would think that a film with this kind of stardom wouldn’t be wasted behind cartoon characters. Antonio Banderas’s silky smooth voice keeps the suave now associated with this cat of legend. As for any new developments to the character, Banderas just keeps doing what he has done for the past three Shrek movies. Why change what earned him a spinoff?
Salma Hayek’s character Kitty Softpaws is Puss’s potential love interest and in many ways his equal. Both cats steal for a living, and are quite skilled dancers as portrayed in a Latin dance sequence. In the cat club where they have their dance battle, the Hype-Cat seen in the commercials steals the movie with his repeated “Oooooooohs!” and giant eyes.
The other major player is Humpty Dumpty. Voiced by one of the most in-demand comedic actors, Zach Galifianakis, this egg (SPOILER ALERT) is a little more rotten than he looks. Playing the former best friend of Puss, Humpty is not your typical nursery rhyme. Galifianakis gets a chance to show off his more serious side in Humpty’s backstory. This devious character brings few laughs, but much of the movie’s menace to the screen. While the change is nice and is definitely an unexpected turn from the funny-man that I thought I would be seeing, his role just doesn’t come out strong enough for the audience to actually ever be concerned for Puss in Humpty’s diabolical plot of revenge.
What was interesting about this animated feature was that it turned out to be light on laughs. The slightly overused kitty jokes and wide-eyed adorable stares of Puss only carry this movie so far into the realm of a comedy. Crafting this into an action-comedy instead of a comedy with action sequences was a mistake. Relying on the adventure and thrill of the tale more than the comedy has made this film mediocre at best. Let Puss be the comedic relief that he was originally written as. But since kids today are so ADD, action is necessary to keep their butts in the seats and continue making obscene amounts of money for the big corporations.