"Puss in Boots"

You may know the illustrious Puss in Boots from the Shrek series, where he simultaneously managed to steal and also charm with his wide, innocent-eyed look. Now, he has his own movie, and while I thought I would miss Shrek and the gang, Puss brings along a new set of characters that are just as funny and enthralling.

The back-story of Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) has never been revealed until this film, but soon he has cause to share it with us. He grew up in an orphanage in the small town of San Ricardo, taken in by his "mama" (voiced by Jessica Shulte, Megamind), and it was there that Puss met the boy who was soon to become his best friend: Humpty Alexander Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis, The Hangover Part II). The two of them plotted to leave the sleepy little town as soon as they were of age, and they played a few small tricks on people when they were younger; however, when they became older, Humpty began to escalate his crimes, and Puss wanted no part in it, especially after he became the town hero after saving an old lady's life.

Unfortunately, Humpty eventually tricks Puss into robbing a bank with him, and the authorities begin to chase them, which culminates in Puss escaping and leaving Humpty on a bridge, where he then takes his infamous fall ("They wrote a song about it!" he later yells at Puss). Now, years later, Puss is trying to track down some magic beans, so that he can find the Golden Goose and pay San Ricardo back for what he owes from the bank robbery. However, another cat is after the beans as well, and Puss soon finds himself having to cooperate with Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek, Grown Ups) and being reunited with his now-enemy, Humpty Dumpty. The beans are being hoarded by the evil Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), and Puss, Kitty, and Humpty must catch them and plant the beans so they can get the golden eggs.

What's great about Puss in Boots is that it has enough action and animation to keep children interested, but it also throws in a few sly nods to the parents and older people in the audience. One such nod was when Puss and Humpty were talking about Bean Club, a club they formed when they were in the orphanage and obsessed with magic beans. Puss says: "The first rule of Bean Club: don't talk about Bean Club. The second: don't talk about Bean Club" (a nod to Fight Club, which children undoubtedly have not seen). In another scene, when Puss is thrown in jail, the police find a bottle of catnip among his possessions, and he explains, "It's for my glaucoma."

In addition, the characters in Puss are all interesting, and are characters we have not seen before in the Shrek series, save for Puss himself. You have Humpty - middle name Alexander - Dumpty, of the famous fable, as well as Kitty Softpaws, Jack and Jill (as evil adults, rather than kids), and a host of others. Banderas, Hayek, and Galifianakis are great as the voices in these roles, and Jack and Jill are funny as well, though I didn't realize until later that Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris voice them.

Yes, see this film. It was definitely a silly movie, but also an enjoyable one, and it makes a nice complement to the Shrek series as a whole. The 3D was actually a little TOO much "in your face" for me - it was done very well, but almost gave me a headache - so I would advise skipping it, unless that's the type that you enjoy seeing. The kids' movie genre often produces movies that are more dumb than funny (see: The Smurfs), and Puss in Boots is a breath of fresh air in this genre, as it is both a hilarious and smart film.

Puss in Boots is out in theaters today, October 28th, and is rated PG with a runtime of 90 minutes.

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