Review – Meeeeowch! (“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish”)

Originally titled Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves, this was supposed to have come out way back in 2014. But with a new script, budget, and a shake-up at Dreamworks Animation, this sequel to the original 2011 movie is finally here!

The legendary Spanish kitty with a sword and boots, Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) is quite the egotistical showman. . . er, showcat and self-appointed hero. After an elaborate party is thrown for him, he easily defeats a giant monster but is killed by a giant bell in the process! Oh no! But, that’s okay, he’s still got nine lives, right? Right?! It seems that Puss has somehow miscalculated and he’s down to one! One last life! After being frightened by a fearsome wolf bounty hunter (Wagner Mora), Puss decides to retire to Mama Luna’s (Da’vien Joy Randolph) Cat House where he meets an overly-lovable Chihuahua disguised as a cat that Puss calls Perrito (Harvey Guillen).

Just as life is settling in, BOOM! Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and her three huge British bear crime family (Olivia Coleman, Ray Winstone, and Samson Kayo) come bustin’ in looking for the wanted Puss and an exposition dump. Looks like their boss, super-villain Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney), wants a certain map that’ll show the location of the Wishing Star; a secret place that will grant someone their fondest wish. Puss, needing to get his old lives back, goes after the map with Perrito as his ’emotional support’ sidekick. Only, there’s a problem. Just as he gets his hands. . . er, paws on the map, he meets up with his old flame and nemesis, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).

Forming a temporary alliance, Kitty teams ups with Puss and his tagalong Perrito to use the stolen map and find the location of the Wishing Star. But this isn’t going to be easy as the location lies deep within the Dark Forest and the path there constantly changes for whoever holds the map! As Kitty and Puss rush to find the Wishing Star, here comes Goldilocks and her Bears plus totally insane Big Jack Horner and his gang, the Bakers Dozen! Jack also has an arsenal of stolen weapons from every fairy tale story you ever heard of and all inside Mary Poppins’ bottomless carpetbag! He’s also got a talking cricket (Kevin McCann) that sounds like Jimmy Stewart! LOL!

It may have taken ten years for a sequel but it was sure worth it! This hilarious, fast-paced, layered, and emotional story is surprisingly by Paul Fisher (The Croods: A New Age) and Tommy Swerdlow (The Grinch, Snow Dogs) who haven’t had the best track record in films. So, it’s with great delight I can say that this movie is a cut above the others in story, humor, and pacing. The jokes aren’t dumbed-down for the kids (in fact, many of them are deliciously dark!), the story isn’t generic and has a purpose with a nice moral to it, and none of the major characters are dull or boring. It’s a delightful change in the recent batch of kiddie films out there. But the most exciting thing about this movie is the animation style, which surprised me again.

If you’re a fan of the eye-popping, colorful, and hyper-paced 2D animation style of 2018’s Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, then you’ll love it here, as the regular CG (which is great, BTW) suddenly changes into this unique format for all the fight & action scenes. This is terrific given Joel Crawford’s (The Croods: A New Age) dazzling direction and his keen eye for making everything look exciting when it should. The vocal work is wonderful, too, with Banderas and Hayek reunited again and sounding excellent. It’s funny hearing a very British Goldilocks and her three Bears spouting Cockney and Mulaney stealing the show as the over-the-top sinister Jack Horner. Honestly, after seeing the 2011 Puss in Boots, and waiting over ten years, I didn’t a sequel would be this good! Well, Merry Christmas to me!!

**Now showing only in theaters  

Puss in Boots (2011)

You know this popular fun-loving, sword-wielding, boot-wearing kitty from the Shrek films, so it was logical to give him his own spin-off movie, right? And believe me, it’s a far cry from the original fairy tale story of the magical cat that talks.

Serving as an origin story, we find Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) a wanted outlaw, trying to restore his honor and name. Why is he wanted? That’ll have to wait for Act II, but for now, he’s just heard of a score: the villainous couple, Jack & Jill (Amy Sedaris & Billy Bob Thornton) are in town and carrying beans. But not just any beans, but three legendary magic beans from Jack that can grow a beanstalk to the sky! Not wasting any time, Puss attempts to steal them but is thwarted by another thief dressed like a Lucha-libre/MCU superhero named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). After they tussle together in an underground cat bar, they decide to team up, but Puss is in for a big surprise.

Softpaws is really partners with inventor Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), a super-genius egg who, not only was once besties with Puss, but also was betrayed by him as well! After a quick backstory of their meeting, friendship, and departure, Puss decides (reluctantly) to help his ex-friend steal the beans, restore his name, and have Humpty can replenish the gold he stole from San Ricardo! Sounds like a great idea, right? After careful planning, the three manage to steal the beans after a harrowing chase through the desert canyons, grow and climb a ginormous beanstalk, steal a golden goose (make that a little duckling), and escape with their lives from something that was chasing them up in the clouds.

But Puss gets a rude awakening: he’s been set up. The whole elaborate, convoluted plan was just a smokescreen by Humpty for his real plan: revenge!! Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! Puss is arrested, the town is under attack by the duckling’s Godzilla-sized mother, and Humpty is absconding with the gold! Oh-no! Written by Tom Wheeler, who gave us both the dreadful Dora and the Lost City of Gold and The Lego Ninjago Movie, this kiddies film is okay on the surface for the youngsters, as it serves as a Puss in Boots stand-alone film with all-new characters, action & adventure, a fast-pace, and some funny moments. Just don’t think about the plot, which makes no sense whatsoever. If you break it down, the story falls apart at the seams as the characters contradict themselves constantly.

This is Chris Miller’s (not to be confused with Lego’s fame, Christopher Miller) second-only directorial effort for the big screen, next to Shrek the Third. He’s more of a voice-over & story artist for many other animated films (Madagascar, Antz, The Addams Family films). He has a nice style, knows how to keep the action of a movie going, and allows for some key suspenseful moments. If you’re a kid, you’ll love the wild ‘n’ crazy characters, the antics they get into, and lessons about friendship, betrayal, and redemption. But as an adult, you’ll sit there and wonder out loud why Puss and his friends are doing what they’re doing. As Puss would say, “Fear me!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.