PART Zorro, part Pepe Le Pew, Antonio Banderas’ dashing kitty has always been one of the most popular components of the Shrek series, so inevitably after supporting roles in three of those movies, the swashbuckling Puss in Boots finally gets an origin film of his own.
Dumped in a Spanish orphanage as a kitten, Puss becomes best friends with Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis, no more appealing as a nursery rhyme than he is in real life). The bad egg has a chip on his shoulder and their friendship finally cracks when Humpty tricks the cat into a bank robbery that goes wrong. Puss goes to exile, Humpty goes to jail. “You got any idea what they do to eggs in prison? It ain’t over easy,” he recalls in possibly the first jocular prison sex reference to feature in a kids’ cartoon. This emotional blackmail, plus the feline charm of Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) persuades Puss to reteam for one last mission: stealing magic beans from Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) and kidnapping a baby goose considerably smaller than the golden eggs it lays.
There’s not much plot to stretch over 90 minutes and rather a lot of padding – sword fights, flamenco dancing fights and verbal duels are all covered, along with some gentle meta-references to the seductive romancings of James Bond and the westerns of Sergio Leone.
Inevitably Puss In Boots is in 3D, which allows the beanstalk to become a rollercoaster ride that is far and away the film’s twistiest, most convoluted proposition. It certainly lacks the zip of the first Shrek yet it’s not as awful as Shrek The Third. Most of the gags centre on Puss breaking off from breathy macho posturing in order to lap milk in shot glasses, chase moving beams of light or offer wisecracks about cat litter but Banderas remains an appealing pussonality; caught carrying a wrap of catnip, he immediately protests it’s “for my glaucoma”.
On general release from Friday
PUSS IN BOOTS (U)
Director: Chris Miller
Running time: 90 minutes
Rating: * * *