Review: Puss in Boots

Still of the title card for DreamWorks animation movie 'Puss in Boots: The last wish.' available in theaters since December 21st, 2022. (Courtesy of DreamWorks)

When the trailer initially dropped for Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, I didn’t really pay it much attention.

Although I grew up with Shrek, this new wave of cash-in nostalgia bait sequels and remakes has made it difficult to find these announcements exciting.

In the end Puss in Boots overcame the pitfalls of its trailer as watching it was some of the most fun I’ve had with a western animated film in recent years.

There is a warmth and passion to nearly every aspect of Puss In Boots’ visuals. Every frame is popping with color. It might be the most beautiful animated film since Into the Spider-Verse — it even uses several of the same animation techniques.

The film uses colors, especially bright, abrasive reds that saturate the screen during moments where the titular Puss begins to panic.

The actual plot of Puss In Boots isn’t anything to write home about. It doesn’t seek to re-invent the wheel as it doesn’t need to. While the film’s themes are common in other children’s movies, the way these themes are in Puss In Boots keeps them fresh and exciting.

Every fight is a visual spectacle, obviously Puss In Boots never reaches the brutal face-melting status of something like John Wick but one specific attack, “the spanish splinter,” which may or may not be reminiscent of a certain splinter episode of Spongebob, did make me wince.

The other aspect that helps carry the action scenes, as well as the story in general is the villains. John Mulaney and Wagner Moura respectively play Elon Musk and a very attractive wolf.

Moura plays a mysterious wolf stalking Puss’ every move. His actual on screen presence is minimal, but, when his iconic and haunting whistling pierces the film’s soundscape, whatever follows is bound to be exhilarating.

Mulaney is Jack Horner, the sociopathic and deeply narcissistic CEO of a baked goods company. Despite how awful he is morally, he is still hilarious to watch on screen. Mulaney’s delivery is effortlessly charming and his character’s appearance as a monolithically tall man-child is a blast to watch on screen.

In the past few years, quippy characters and witty banter have become synonymous with the kind of lazy and formulaic writing style that has infected Hollywood thanks to the Marvel superhero craze.

Puss in Boots is saved from being just another punny blockbuster by having not only great jokes, but fantastic characterization that works with the themes of the film. Nearly every aspect works in tandem to make the viewing experience a wonderful one.

The only real issues I have with Puss in Boots are nitpicky. Certain gags (namely Goldilocks and the three bears repeatedly using words and phrases like ‘just right’ from their nursery rhyme in every line of dialogue) can become a bit repetitive and annoying, and while characters like Perrito, the goofy, childlike dog that follows Puss and Kitty Softpaws on their adventure may be annoying at the start, he eventually molds into a genuinely loveable character.

Puss in Boots is proof that not all sequels to old franchises need to be cynical cash grabs, it is a reminder that cinematic warmth and creativity can still exist within the Hollywood machine.