‘Puss in Boots’ amusing, well animated

Article Published: Nov. 3, 2011 | Modified: Nov. 3, 2011
‘Puss in Boots’ amusing, well animated

Antonio Banderas lends his voice to ‘Puss in Boots.’

Apart from being expertly animated, well-voiced and generally entertaining, DreamWorks’ “Puss in Boots” stands apart from most kids’ fare.

It wisely leaves all those tired conventions – incessant pop culture references and rapping, dancing animals – in the litter box. That alone is reason enough to cheer for our titular boot-clad Spanish outlaw, who just so happens to be a cat, but, fortunately, there’s plenty to enjoy for young and old.

A spinoff of the popular “Shrek” series, “Puss in Boots” avoids the very things that bogged down its predecessors, namely incessant pop culture references and rapping, dancing animals. Director Chris Miller (“Shrek the Third”) seems to have righted these wrongs with a healthy dose of originality, delivering jokes that fit the narrative – rather than the fad of the day – and haven’t been seen countless times before. Plus, the animation is nothing short of stellar.

It’s more style than substance, but “Puss” is a visual spectacle, and oftentimes funny at that . I mean, a raspy-voiced swashbuckling cat with a Spanish accent voiced by Antonio Banderas (“Desperado”)? I attempted to refrain from typing “Purrfect,” which, as you can tell, didn’t go so well, but seriously, Banderas fits the role to a comedic tee.

Serving as a prequel, of sorts, to “Shrek,” “Puss” is set in that same twisted fantasy world where its fairy-tale inhabitants are, like Humpty Dumpty, a little more cracked than we remember from childhood.

This origin story shows how Puss earned his boots, namely through a scheme to find the literal goose that laid the golden egg, or, in this case eggs. The yolky brains behind the plan is the amoral Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis, “The Hangover”), whose lifelong quest to obtain three magic beans, which supposedly lead to the eggs, comes to fruition when he encounters estranged childhood friend Puss.

In this fairy tale, Humpty’s great fall is more metaphorical than literal, and both Miller and Galifianakis have fun aplenty with the character. Along for the journey is feline thief extraordinaire Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek, “Frida”), who helps the gang avoid certain doom at the hands of notorious bandits Jack (Billy Bob Thornton, “Bad Santa”) and Jill (Amy Sedaris, “Strangers with Candy”), who, themselves, offer some laugh-out-loud dialogue. See, Jack wants to quit his thieving ways in order to start a family, but Jill attributes this sentiment to the time Jack fell down and broke his crown.

Meanwhile, our heroic outlaws must also avoid capture by El Comandante (filmmaker Guillermo del Toro) and evade a giant – and hilariously rendered – rampaging goose, which is arguably one of the film’s best scenes.

The thin plot seems like more of an excuse to present some entertaining set pieces, making “Puss in Boots” more like a sum of its parts. But when those parts involve a swashbuckling cat who gets distracted from his quest by a shiny light, purring contentedly as he chases it, batting his paws, you can’t help but laugh.

“Puss in Boots,” rated PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor, is playing at Regal Cinema 7. For show times, see page 15-B or visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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