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 on such thin 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?
The history behind Puss is an interesting one. Dating back to 1697, this cat has made a name for himself in popular culture. The animated cat craze was going strong in the animation world the early 1920s with Felix the Cat, the most popular character and series running at the time. Created by Otto Mesmer, Felix first appeared in the Feline Follies from Pat Sullivan’s animation studio (http://animation.filmtv.ucla.edu).
Riding the animated cat trend to the bank, Disney put out a silent black and white short animation in 1922 based off the Brother’s Grimm fairytale: Puss in Boots. The film focused on sight gags and physical humor (Wikipedia.com).
What was interesting about the 2011 animated feature was that it turned out to be light on laughs in comparison to the 1922 short. 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.