Finally, an animated movie sequel that's worth the wait. One has come to expect little from computer animated franchise films these days – or any franchise films for that matter, but Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, a follow up to the 2011 film Puss in Boots, is both fun and thoughtful. Both Puss in Boots films have been directed by Joel Crawford with a stellar voice cast lead by Antonio Banderas as the sword-wielding showman, hero and fugitive cat.
A spin-off from the ‘Shrek’ franchise, this is the story of a walking, talking cat who sings songs celebrating his own greatness. After he’s vanquished a menacing giant, a fallen bell sounds Puss’s death knell. A lifetime of shenanigans and adventures later, Puss learns that he has ploughed through eight of his nine lives. On doctor’s advice, he hangs up his hat and boots and opts for a sedentary and safe life as a pet, taking shelter with cat lady Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph). He learns how to live as a domestic pet, eating cat food and sharing a litter with tens of other felines. “So, this is where dignity goes to die,” he mutters sardonically as he queues up for the communal litter trough.
That’s until the cockney crime loving family of Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears (Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo) comes looking for Puss in Boots. They need his help to steal a map to the Magical Star. Fearing death and an end to his ‘legendary’ status, an invigorated Puss embarks on a quest to find the map, the star and make his last wish. A lonely but optimistic dog (Harvey Guillén), with aspirations of becoming a therapy dog, becomes his unsolicited sidekick. As they seek out the map, they also encounter Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), Puss’s competition and former love interest.
Screenwriters Paul Fisher, Tommy Swerdlow and Tom Wheeler build a fairy tale/ nursery rhyme multiverse into the story. Besides Goldilocks and the Three Bears, there’s also Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney), a supersized avatar of Little Jack Horner who stuck his thumb in a pie and pulled out a plum. Big Jack Horner is malevolent, avaricious pie-maker and collector of prized artefacts from Excalibur to a flying carpet, Magic nanny bag and unicorn horns. Another dark force is the red eyed wolf (Wagner Moura) who haunts and follows Puss.
On this ride-or-die adventure, Puss learns many lessons. Among them trust, kinship, and breaking down his own hubris. The banter between Puss and Kitty —Banderas and Hayek—is especially fun. As she ribs him, he responds, “Mock me quietly please.” Through the little dog, Perrito, they learn the value of stopping to smell the roses. Animal wisdom for the soul is peppered into an energetic and fast-paced narrative with colourful 3D rendering that creates an amusing family film voiced by a top-notch cast.