'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish' review: Adorable feline makes a triumphant return in breezy sequel
Courtesy of Dreamworks Animation
Puss in Boots is facing an existential crisis in his latest feature, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” the sequel to the 2011 solo outing that’s still anchored within the “Shrek” universe. Puss in Boots, once again voiced by the great Antonio Banderas, is coming to terms with reality and his lavish no regrets lifestyle isn’t as concrete anymore. Co-directors Joel Crawford and Januel Mercado (with a script by Paul Fisher) have a great time both meshing with various animated styles (reflecting something more akin to “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” as opposed to what you’ll remember from the “Shrek” canon) and the characters at hand which, thanks to all of the above plus its sincere thoughtfulness, offers a major improvement over its predecessor.
Puss in Boots maintains a loose cannon attitude until he realizes all eight of his nine lives have been depleted (each demise is depicted in a hilarious montage). The film opens with a hypercaffeinated brawl between Puss and an angry giant that’s now put our favorite orange feline at death’s literal door step. It’s advised he hangs up the sword and swashbuckling escapades even if it means becoming something he’s not: a lazy house pet. Afraid at what might be coming, Puss recends into hiding, growing a chiseled beard, and wearing booties on his paws while being overseen by a crazy cat lady.
But it’s not all doom and gloom as various fairytale characters and animals, including Goldilocks (voiced by Florence Pugh) and her family of three bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winston, and Samson Kayo) and Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney) are searching for a mystical Wishing Star which has the power to grant any wish one time. And before you can say “pray for mercy…” Puss is back in the saddle, joined by his old flame Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and a new canine pal named Perro (voiced by “What We Do in the Shadows” alum Harvey Guillén - who is quite terrific), an adorable pup who doesn’t possess a single negative thought and is the absolute cutest. He’s just thrilled to have friends.
“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is essentially a race-against-the-clock adventure where our heroes and villains traverse a vast (and eye-popping) Candy Land-esq terrain as they make a pilgrimage towards the Wishing Star. Along the way, Puss is chased by his own vision of death, manifested as The Big Bad Wolf (voiced by Wagner Moura), and the crew is thrown into some wild and zany battles. With its array of impressive visuals (at times resembling a comic strip) and a narrative that’s more engrossing, “The Last Wish” isn’t short on style points. Throw in a catchy opening musical number and the movie gels for 100-minutes. Not bad for a sequel over a decade removed from its past installment where nobody knew if it could deliver. Hopefully it’s not that long before we see these characters again.
PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH opens in theaters Wednesday, December 21st.