Puss in Boots (2011)

(On TV, April 2015)  Given the success of “Puss” in the Shrek films, this spin-off prequel was as inevitable as it was likely to be disappointing.  Not all supporting comic characters have enough presence to sustain a full-length movie, and so Puss in Boots is largely forgettable despite Antonio Banderas’ vocals and the efforts of the Dreamworks Animation team.  Part of the familiarity is the once-again approach in poaching modern storylines from fairy-tales: Here, there’s not much Puss in Boots and a lot of Humpty-Dumpty and Jack and the Beanstalk as the protagonist gets embroiled in a heist plot.  (Thankfully, the links to the Shrek movies are very, very thin –not even the settings match.)  It works sporadically, just well enough to earn continued attention throughout.  Much of the rest is straight from the contemporary animated-movie framework: escalating action sequences, recognizable voice cast, spirited gags and conventional storytelling.  Plus a big helping of cat-related jokes.  But then again, originality doesn’t really pay in developing family-friendly animated films, especially if they don’t aspire (like Pixar often does) to thematic greatness.  Thankfully, Puss in Boots is light on pop-culture references, stands up on its own as a non-Shrek movie and pairing off Banderas once again with Selma Hayek, even if only vocally, seems like the right thing to do.  There may not be much to love in Puss in Boots, but there is enough to like.

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