After the exploits of this intrepid feline adventurer (voiced by charming Antonio Banderas) were acclaimed in “Shrek 2,” a picaresque spin-off for the supporting star seemed inevitable.
Designed as a prequel, this fairy tale/nursery rhyme-based plot revolves around the backstory of Puss and a glib egg named Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), who became childhood ‘brothers’ in the Spanish orphanage of San Ricardo, maternally run by Senora Imelda (voiced by Constance Marie) . Growing up, they dreamed of finding those magical beans that would lead them up the Beanstalk into the giant’s fortress in-the-clouds, where Mother Goose guards her precious child, the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs.
Years later, as now-notorious, debonair Puss in his signature plumed hat is trying to steal the genuine beans from avaricious Jack & Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), he unexpectedly encounters a sultry, slick-fingered, feline femme fatale, Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek), who is after the same treasure. As the two of them join manipulative Humpty Dumpty – who has a jealous, duplicitous streak – in their mutual quest, there are numerous double-crosses and betrayals, along with a flamboyant flamenco-dancing interlude in the Cat Cantina.
Behind-the-scenes, “Shrek” animators were inspired by Antonio Banderas’ suave performance in “The Mask of Zorror” (1998), so they modeled Puss to play off Banderas’ Spanish background, marking a literary departure from the traditional French concept created by Charles Perrault’s 1697 “Master Cat”/“The Booted Cat.” Writer Tom Wheeler amplifies a revenge-and-forgiveness story he devised with Brian Lynch and Will Davies, as lead animator Patrick Mate and his staff, directed by Chris Miller, generate the stylish computerized visual elements.
Film aficionados may recognize the voice of San Ricardo’s official Commandante and the mysterious Moustache Man as belonging to filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Puss in Boots” prowls in with a swaggering 7. It’s furry, frisky, family-friendly fun. And you don’t have to pay extra for the 3-D, since the 2-D version is just as good.