Those still reeling from Rango’s (see 03/21/11 review) inexplicable Oscar win for Best Animated Feature should head to the Roanoke Valley Public Library and check out Puss in Boots. The Oscar nominee, available on DVD on the hot flicks shelf, offers a similar western setting, unlikely hero, and themes of betrayal and mistaken assumptions. However the similarities stop there. Puss in Boots delivers twice the excitement and more overall amusement without the bizarre ugliness and weirdness of Rango.
The swashbuckling kitty who first added a much needed jolt of joy to Shrek 2 proves himself fully capable of handling the lead in his own movie. The wonderfully accented vocal talent of Antonio Banderas adds another full layer of character to this feline version of Zorro. Puss in Boots takes place well before the feisty fur ball joins Shrek and Donkey on another whirlwind adventure. Several fairy tale characters and storylines are once again jumbled together and reimagined including a villainous Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), a creepy looking Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis), and the Jack and the Beanstalk legend. Mistaken for an outlaw, the hated and hunted Puss must save the day, get the girl, and redeem an old friend.
Puss in Boots provides action galore including a stagecoach escape that goes airborne. There are plenty of gags such as an obvious but no less funny scene of cat burglary and a cat cantina with a cow behind the bar. This setting provides a memorable scene in which a huge ring of kitties surrounds a combative and acrobatic flamenco style dance off between Puss and the alluring Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). It also introduces the movie’s funniest and smallest character. He’s a wide eyed cat who pops up with paws over mouth and utters “ohhhhhhhh.” His three hilarious appearances have no rhyme or reason but will crack you up nonetheless.