“Puss in Boots”
Here’s a fractured fairy tale that is
just for fun. But it’s not really for
little kids. Though it’s animated,
it’s too complicated, and even a little dark.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys.
We are, however, supposed to root for the debonair, sword-fighting,
boot-swaggering, plumed-hat-wearing, swashbuckling, romantic, cosmopolitan
Puss. Who is a cat.
Antonio Banderas reprises this
tongue-in-cheek role, originally in the “Shrek” series, with just the
right mix of bravado and charm. But
this character isn’t always virtuous. Puss
is raised in an orphanage, where he immediately befriends the egghead, Humpty
Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), who is inventive, intelligent, lonely, and amoral.
Both desperate for friends, they become blood brothers, constantly in
search for the magic beans which will lead them to the goose that lays the
golden eggs. They are constantly
stealing beans (and other provisions) from the townsfolk, and though they are
both caught and jailed, Puss manages to help the town overcome the threat of a
rampaging bull, and the townsfolk are grateful to him, and let him go.
Humpty Dumpty is left to rot in his regrets.
Puss is a gunslinger with a sword, a
musketeer with panache who can take on a whole crowded saloon of local toughs
if he wants, but really, what he’s after, still, is a way to get the magic
beans, which happen to be in the possession of…the vile and villainous Jack
and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris).
But his plan is foiled by another rogue cat, Kitty Softpaws (Selma
Hayek), who’s just as intent on stealing the beans as he is.
Their adventures lead them back to Humpty Dumpty, now out of prison and
eager for another chance at friendship, which Puss reluctantly extends, only
to be betrayed once more, this time by everyone.
Yes, there’s the expected spark of
romance between the two cat-adventurers, when they’re not busy exchanging
barbs and insults, and even sexual-tension swordplay (perfected by Johnny Depp
and Penelope Cruz in “Pirates of the
”). Yes, we manage to plant the magic
beans, which takes us up the beanstalk, to the castle in the sky where there
is indeed a pursuing giant, but the golden goose isn’t exactly helpless,
So it’s either a very creative novelty
or a mishmash that disappoints practically everyone.
Though it was nominated for a Golden Globe for best animated feature
film, it’s going to struggle for an audience, because it’s not designed
for children and many adults won’t even try it.
But if you’re looking for something a little different, but still
cute and harmless, this one just may be your catnip.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor,
St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church,