November 04, 2011

MOVIES: Puss in Boots (Chris Miller, 2011)

The Shrek sidekick gets his own movie, a nifty western tale with moments of surprising emotional depth.

Antonio Banderas provides the voice of Puss, an outlaw on the run who falls in with the femme fatale Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and her associate Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Puss and Humpty have a history, and neither entirely trusts the other, but they agree to work together with Kitty in a plot to get hold of the magic beans and steal the golden goose at the top of the beanstalk.

The voice talent is mostly very good -- Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris are also on hand as Jack and Jill -- though the weak link is Galifianakis, who doesn't have his physicality to help sell the performance, and doesn't provide quite enough vocal energy. (The character looks remarkable, though, a creepy egg-child who is simultaneously riveting and repulsive.)

The jokes are funny, and less pop-culture-of-the-moment than those in the Shrek movies; they mostly avoid the obvious, and find interesting new twists on some of the things that are expected. The one catnip joke, for instance, is the best line in the movie. And kudos to Henry Jackman, whose Latin-flavored score is charming and witty.

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