First, the gang will need to climb a beanstalk, but to get a beanstalk, they’ll need magic beans. To get the beans, they’ll have to deal with the villainous Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). That duo’s storyline, involving a violent streak and a desire for a child, are part of what pushes Puss in Boots out of the ‘G’ realm and into ‘PG’ territory, as are a few references to Puss’ loving ways (“I’m a lover, not a fighter,” Puss explains.)

The first 20 to 30 minutes of Puss in Boots is so visually striking and the jokes so amusing (a dance sequence is an unexpected highlight) that the rest of the film, focused on the mechanics of the beanstalk plot, proves a slight letdown. The film’s early comic energy flags toward the end of the film’s 90-minute running time, and a couple of long chase scenes, while containing moments of visual grace, feel a bit too by-the-book for a movie that exceeds expectations in many other areas. A finale featuring a rampaging goose and a covered wagon that takes flight tested the limits of this critic’s gratitude, but the audience’s hearty applause at the film’s conclusion may be a better barometer of the movie’s ability to entertain viewers of all ages.

Even if Puss in Boots is running on empty by its conclusion, its high-octane beginning gives it the push it needs to cross the finish line a winner. Overall, this spinoff is superior to the most recent entries in the Shrek series from which it came—making the prospect of “nine lives” for this cinematic cat seem purr-fectly palatable.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: “Holy frijoles”; “pooper”; “shut up”; a joke about “golden eggs” that suggests an anatomical reference.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: Scenes in a saloon where milk is the drink of choice.
  • Sex/Nudity: A man’s trousers fall down, exposing his boxer shorts; Jill tells Jack she wants a baby; Puss refers to himself as a lover, not a fighter.
  • Violence/Crime: Cartoon violence and battles, including sword fights, gunfire and cannon shots; Puss and Humpty plot theft of golden eggs; characters describe themselves as outlaws; Puss lives by his own code, which includes no stealing from orphans; Puss hits Kitty in the head with a guitar; fingers are pricked as part of an oath.
  • Religion: Puss says he’s known by many names, including “Diablo Gato”; human nature is discussed, with the idea that there is good inside of those who are outwardly bad.
     

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.