If there was EVER a character from the increasingly tedious Shrek franchise that deserves his own, stand-alone film…it’s Puss in Boots. Antonio Banderas is once again perfect as the voice of The Furry Lover, clearly having fun with the appropriately over-blown vocal stylings. His Desperado(1995) co-star Salma Hayek steps (or dances) up as the saucy love interest, Kitty Soft-Paws, and they nicely reignite the fun, romantic chemistry of their previous on-screen pairings. The other characters that emerge as the story plays out are well-developed too, with Zach Galifianakis turning in a funny performance as the duplicitous Humpty Dumpty and Billy Bob Thornton as Jack (of Jack and Jill nursey rhyme fame) in a fresh personification that I didn’t expect. Interestingly, Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro joins the voice talent pool as San Ricardo’s prickly captain of the guard. With a billion other projects on the go, where does the man find the time. As with the Shrek flicks, this one is loaded to the tits with double entendre-style jokes and pop-culture references; visually riffing on everything from Fight Club to Star Trek to Godzilla. The action is well executed and would’ve been great in 3D while the over-all pace has very little in the way of lags. This is another of those Dreamworks Animation movies that seems to have learned a thing or two from the success of Pixar in the execution of a ‘kids’ movie that adults can effortlessly enjoy as well. And on that level, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this one. It’s clever and fun.
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