A Film directed by Joel Crawford
I had twenty dollars in AMC Theater gift cards absolutely burning a hole in my pocket this past weekend, so a trip to the theater was arranged to have something to do that did not involve sitting around the house and watching YouTube Videos or playing video games. Currently, there is not much kid-friendly fare at the theater, so our hands were somewhat tied as to whether we were going to see Avatar the Way of Water or Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. We ultimately opted for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. I wouldn’t consider myself the largest fan of the Shrek franchise, but I generally enjoyed most of the films despite getting incrementally worse as they go. Truth be told, I never actually went out to see the original Puss in Boots film when it released almost a decade ago. Nothing against the film, I just somewhat forgot about it. With this in mind, I was hoping that the film would be accessible to newcomers and not have too much plot carried over from any movie that I had not seen, and thankfully it does not. All one really has to have is a passing familiarity with the character and his motivations, and it would be easy to enjoy this film.
“Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll: he has burnt through eight of his nine lives. Puss sets out on an epic journey to find the mythical Last Wish and restore his nine lives.”
First and foremost, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish retains a lot of the humor that you would find in the Shrek films without going too overboard on constant sight gags. A lot of the jokes revolve around the fact that Puss has used up all but one of his “nine lives”, and as such he knows he is on death’s door and should “take it easy”. Overcome with fear about his future, and perhaps trying to run away from his past, Puss in Boots decides to basically go to a retirement home for cats to live his life as a old bearded shell of himself, now named “Pickles” under the roof of a “crazy cat lady”. Some of the funniest scenes in the movie are during this time, as we completely see Mr. Boots forgo his dignity and dive head first into the sad world of growing old. Just seeing a cat with a beard is pretty funny in it’s own right. It is here where we meet the comedic sidekick for the film El Perrito, a somewhat depressing and yet overly optimistic chihuahua that initially is disguised as a cat in order to take advantage of free food. The dynamic between El Perrito and Puss in Boots is pretty funny at times because Puss is at wits end, and somewhat of a sad sack, while El Perrito should have every reason to be in a similar mindset, but finds happiness everywhere he goes. As you can imagine this makes him very annoying to everyone he comes across.
These two are later joined by another character named Kitty Softpaws, a female cat burglar somewhat in the same vein as Puss in Boots. She has also been doing thievery to make ends meet, and is revealed to be a former jilted lover of Puss’s. All three are on a quest, albeit with different motivations, to use a magical map to find a legendary wishing star that will grant a person any wish they want as long as they are deemed worthy of such a grand gift. This puts the heroes at odds with your villains for the story including a comedically evil iteration of the famous nursery rhyme character, Little Jack Horner (Now Big Jack Horner) and the secondary bad guys that, under different circumstances would have been good guys, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The movie is a pretty simple chase film for the entire duration, which makes the plot simple enough for little kids to get behind and doesn’t bog the viewer down with a bunch of exposition.
One of my favorite characters is actually a black-cloaked wolf that appears to be after Puss in Boots, perhaps to turn him in for his enormous bounty. This wolf, with blazing red eyes and terrifying hooked swords, is actually one of the cooler bad guys that I’ve seen in a movie in awhile. Considering this is a children’s film, and generally villains in children’s films are not what I would consider to be awesome, I was pretty surprised with how menacing the character is. This is the very same character that literally strikes fear Puss in Boots’ heart, leading him to basically run away from his own life. I won’t go into tons of spoilers as to why this wolf is actually chasing Puss in Boots, but viewers can kind of pick up on what’s actually going on pretty early in the film. It’s a cool touch, and really set this apart from other children’s films in that it not only has the laughs, but quite interesting action scenes that rival some of the stuff you’ve seen in big budget action films.
There was an interesting stylistic choice used when battle scenes were going on that somewhat reminded me of the Spiderman: into the Spiderverse film. When the action gets really crazy, the film would sometimes shift to deliberate slowdowns in the frame rate of the battles making it have an interesting, almost slow motion, fast cut effect that I can’t really describe too well in a written form. You’ll know it when you see it, and the Spiderman movie is the best comparison I have. There was also a lot of instances where I assumed this film may have been available in 3-D in different theaters, but we watched it in your standard 2-D and it was just as enjoyable that way as it would have been the other way.
While this is not a musical, like some of the Shrek movies, there are a couple of big musical numbers that really set the tone for the film. If my son is any indication, these songs can really have the kids grinning from ear to ear when they happen. The film opens with an epic battle between Puss in Boots and an enormous giant that is unwittingly awakened in a small village that Mr. Boots routinely terrorizes the nobility in. This occurs during the time when a huge musical number is being sang about the exploits of Puss in Boots, with the song continues into the ensuing battle. This definitely made for a very entertaining first arc of a film. There are a lot of things I liked about this film and I could keep mentioning various scenes here and there but I don’t want to go through and do a shot for shot breakdown or anything so I’ll narrow it down to saying that this movie doesn’t really have too many points that I would consider to be “bad.”
Keeping in mind that we ended up seeing this movie without any previous intention of going to the movie theater, I came out of this pleasantly surprised as to how well put-together this was. As a forty year old man, generally children’s movies don’t excite me too much anymore, but ones like this that have things for both kids and adults to enjoy (like innuendos and double-entendres) always make me laugh and I’m not gonna be a person that looks down on such films. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is easily the best children’s film that I’ve seen since Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and is highly recommended. The voice cast is great, and Antonio Banderas is especially awesome. Just don’t make the same mistake we made and worry about staying to see the after-credits scene, as it’s not worth it in the slightest.