Sometimes less is more. Often a supporting character who flits in and out of the action, brightening up every scene s/he is in, is the cat’s meow. But promote that same character to center stage and the results can be as much fun as coughing up a hairball.
In “Puss in Boots” Antonio Banderas gives the character Puss in Boots, the plucky ginger cat, a tenth life as the leading feline in an all new animated spinoff to the popular “Shrek” series. This is a prequel, the origin story of how an orphan cat became a boot-wearing legend, and how his curious friendship with Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Galifianakis) almost killed the cat.
“Puss in Boots” is more an action movie than a comedy, more cute than good. The sharp writing and the fairy tale in-jokes of the “Shrek” series are both MIA, replaced with a standard story with some romance, some intrigue, some action and even a quick lesson in why you shouldn’t declaw your cats.
There are some inventive, fun scenes, like a Sergio Leone inspired cat dance fight featuring a move called the Litter Box, and Banderas has a great character voice, but too often the movie is content to take the easy route story wise. Also please, can we call a moratorium on “The first rule of Fight Club” jokes?
Puss in Boots brightened up the “Shrek” movies, but here, a weak voice cast–Zach Galifianakis and Salma Hayek bring little more than name recognition to the roles of Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws–and an even weaker script render a once effective character neutered.