Director: Chris Miller
Voices of: Antonio Banderas,Salma Hayek,Zach Galifianakis,Billy Bob Thornton,Amy Sedaris
Indian Express rating:**
The first Dreamworks film to be partly produced in India,a spinoff from the much-loved Shrek series,a story centred on one of its zaniest characters,and starring an actor who can not just meow and crow but is a proven swashbuckler in self own boots. Puss in Boots should be a laugh riot,a preening feast in the midst of a self-mocking fiesta.
However,notwithstanding Banderas,notwithstanding Hayek and notwithstanding Galifianakis (The Hangover) — all actors with own brand of loopiness — that it isn’t. Worse,while Puss in Boots is the rare fairy tale hero whose special characteristic is guile,the film disappointingly mellows him to a good-at-heart outlaw.
Chris Miller,who also directed Shrek 1,2,3 and Madagascar,has a smart story here with Jack and Jill in the role of two murderous thieves,Humpty Dumpty as a dear friend,and the giant’s castle at the end of a beanstalk as the ultimate goal. However,Puss (Banderas) manages not to have fun with most of it. Instead,the film is high on sentiment,long on dialogue and plot twists,and short on humour.
When Puss and a cat that is his match,Kitty Softpaws (Hayek) clash,and especially when they tap dance in air,the film does come to life. However,the story remains more focused on Puss and Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis),two orphans whose friendship goes sour as Humpty betrays Puss’s trust. Humpty,of course,is an egg and much as Galifianakis tries,there is only so much one can do to make him interesting. It’s hard to like it and harder still to ignore the perils of his short existence — the film itself has many scenes of Humpty being helped up,helped down and sent spinning or rolling without control.
Thornton and Sedaris star as Jack and Jill,who have the magic beans that Puss and Humpty want. They ride a cart with only their necks sticking out,raise pigs as kids and have a constant argument over starting a family. Even they are at times funnier than the stylised duo of Puss and Kitty.
Puss decides to help Kitty and Humpty,despite their differences,steal the magic beans as he wants to go back a hero to his town,San Ricardo,that believes he staged a bank robbery.
For a brief while as they reach the clouds next to the giant’s castle,you get a glimpse of all that this film could have been. They float on clouds,blow puffs around and send down showers of droplets,their voices sounding just like little children “because of the rarefied air”.
That beanstalk rising up to the sky,which they scramble over and tumble down,and a fight with Jack and Jill across a moutainous cavern,make the 3D worthwhile. However,in just the kind of chickening that Puss in Boots should avoid,the castle’s terror is no giant but a goose. Hee-hi-ho-hum.