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Review: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish

December 21, 2022

By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

How long can you keep running from death before it catches up to you? That’s the surprisingly deep question being asked at the centre of DreamWorks Animation’s almost shockingly good sequel Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

As a followup to 2011’s Puss in Boots, which was itself a spinoff of the Shrek franchise, The Last Wish is the rare sequel that improves upon the merely good first one in almost every conceivable way. It’s the best movie in the Shrek universe since the first two, offering a visually inventive yarn that fully realizes the potential of giving one of the franchise’s most delightful side characters his due.

This film finds Puss in Boots (who is once again voiced with gusto by Antonio Banderas), the sword-wielding Spanish feline who is loved and feared through all the land, down to the last of his nine lives, after using up his other eight in a myriad of ways. Faced with his mortality for the first time, Puss is advised to take his retirement at the home of Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), an elderly cat lady with a house full of felines, where he must adapt to domesticity (one of the film’s most amusing, adorable sequences).

Puss gets called back into action in pursuit of a magical map leading to a Wishing Star that will grant him any wish, which he plans to use to renew his nine lives. Puss is joined by old flame Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), as well as new friend Perrito (Harvey Guillén), an eternally optimistic little dog who has disguised himself as a cat to fit in at Mama Luna’s. Perrito is a scene-stealer who is both delightful and heartbreaking, with Guillén embracing his guileless view of the world in a charming vocal performance.

But they are being pursued on their quest by Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears – Mama Bear (Olivia Colman), Papa Bear (Ray Winstone) and Baby Bear (Samson Kayo), who are reimagined as a notorious crime family. There’s also the looming threat of the Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura), who in this version is a ruthless and terrifying bounty hunter ready to claim the last of Puss’s nine kitty lives.

What follows is a fast-paced adventure that also finds time for quieter character moments and has some surprising layers to it, with this sequel actually being allowed to get quite dark in places. What works so well about Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is that the story is firmly grounded in being about mortality and second chances, while still functioning as a very enjoyable (and family-friendly) fractured fairy tale. The stuff with “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney), an overgrown man-child who collects fairy tale objects, is a little goofier than the rest, but it doesn’t distract too much from the core strengths of the film. 

Directed by Joel Crawford (The Croods: A New Age), Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is close to a triumph from DreamWorks. One of the most impressive aspects of the film is the way that it mixes a variety of different animation styles, with them further pushing the 2D-3D look of The Bad Guys. It’s good to see the studio experimenting in the visual department, with the film embracing the more illustrative look of a picture book at times. Puss himself is also wonderfully cat-like in his actions (right down to the way that his tail swishes when he’s sitting on a barstool lapping milk from a shot glass).

The film is surprisingly heartfelt, too, with an emotional centre to the story that comes to fruition with several touching moments in the last act. This is a fitting adventure for our “favourite, fearless hero,” brought to the screen with excellent vocal performances and visually dazzling animation.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish opens exclusively on theatres on December 21st.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 21, 2022 6:55 pm

    I just saw the movie today and I do have to say that I really liked it. It is a bit dark and mature than what I was expecting for its targeted demographic audience, but I found the movie to be much better than the previous Puss in Boots or even the last two Shrek movies.

    Like

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