By Gary Murray


Starring the voice talents of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis


Written by Brian Lynch, David H Steinberg, Tom Wheeler and Jon Zack


Directed by Chris Miller


Running time 84 min


MPAA Rating PG


Selig Film Rating Matinee


The DreamWorks group has always been playing a distant second to Pixar in the animation field.  With every Shrek that DreamWorks puts on the screen, Pixar places another Toy Story to counter.  In the last few years, Pixar has given us some weak entries such as Cars 2 while Pixar gave the audience one of the best animated films of all time with How to Train Your Dragon.  The newest film by the animators of DreamWorks is a sideways step that is titled Puss in Boots.


The film has as its star Puss from the Shrek films.  That is all it has in common with the quartet of green ogre flicks.  This is a stand alone adventure.  Puss in Boots narrates his own story, a tale of how Puss became the wanted cat.  His is on a quest to get some magic beans that are owned by the gigantic duo of Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris).  Stopping him is Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) another thief who wants the beans herself.  She is put up to this by Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) who has his own designs on the beans.  He wants to use the beans to go into the sky and get the goose that lays the golden eggs, free wealth for everyone.


There is also a history between Puss in Boots and Humpty Dumpty.  In a very long and plot dragging flashback, we get the story of a young Puss and Humpty planning to become wealthy beyond their wild imaginations.  As Puss becomes a hero to the village, Humpty is left behind.  They have a split that runs long and deep between the two.


The story of Puss in Boots goes from action pieces of trying to get the beans to the adventure in the sky collecting the golden eggs.  The audience experiences a very cute dance/fight sequence as well as an Old West style wagon chase.  The adventure leaps toward a giant set piece where Puss must defend his home from ultimate danger.


The acting of the actors runs all along the charming side.  Both Banderas and Hayek work well together as a couple and as rivals.  The two banter with each other, trading barbs with tongue in cheek aplomb.  Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty just doesn’t work in the same level.  He never finds the right beat for his character, never giving it the spin that the role deserves.


The weird thing about the film is that when it goes into the back-story of Puss and Humpty it comes to a screeching halt.  Learning how these two became friends makes the film go from a rollicking adventure to a drab soap opera.  Once we get away from all the exposition, the adventure continues at the pace demanded for the material.


This film is just a joy to watch.  It jumps off the screen in such a vast array of color that it is a feast for the eyes.  The layers of the film remind one of the old multilayered animation camera system that Disney used in their greatest features.   It is hands and heads above every other DreamWorks feature and better than most of the Pixar product.


Director Chris Miller uses 3D for maximum effect.  We get not only the cheap swords going into the audience but the layered look that only the animated film can do with the technology.  He keeps the film going from beat to beat with only one giant hiccup along the way. 


The kids will love this Puss in Boots adventure.  It is on par with the original Shrek film and much better than the last two entries.  It should make another series of films for the DreamWorks Pictures banner to generate. 


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