The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Puss in Boots

This is only going to be a quasi-review. I just saw Puss in Boots and had a most unusual experience. Within the first minute, it became quite apparent that the theater had received the wrong print of the film. In fact, they'd received a print intended for the visually impaired. A monotone narrator described what was happening on screen as it was happening. I went into the lobby and notified theater management. They tinkered around with the digital projector's hard drive for a bit and came to the conclusion that it was not fixable; they'd need to get another print, which would take a few days. I was told that my ticket money would be refunded regardless, but I was welcome to stay and finish watching the movie if I so desired.

I briefly weighed my options. On one hand, the narration was damn distracting. Because it had to be weaved in between lines of dialogue, there were moments where the narrator would describe something before it happened. This blew a few visual jokes and a plot point or two. On the other hand, I knew that I had a full schedule of movies to see and reviews to write, meaning that I wouldn't have time to re-see Puss in Boots anytime soon. Wanting to get something cobbled together and online for the film's opening day, I decided to stick it out. That brings us to now. In lieu of a proper review, I offer a few scattered thoughts on what I saw.

As he did in the Shrek series, Antonio Banderas provides the voice of the titular feline. We learn his backstory, how he went from a local hero to an outlaw after being betrayed by his one-time friend Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Later, in an effort to make amends to his hometown, Puss needs to steal some magic beans from the gruesome Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris). Humpty shows up to seek forgiveness and lend a hand, bringing with him another cat named Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek). Together, their adventure takes them up the beanstalk, where they encounter a chick that lays golden eggs, as well as some treacherous pitfalls.

Puss in Boots is a gorgeously animated film, especially in the area of character design. We all know how lovable Puss is. The surprise is Humpty Dumpty, who, despite his oval shape, has a slightly sinister face. He looks like Dwight Schrute in an egg costume. The locations are equally interesting to examine. When the beanstalk takes the characters into the clouds, it's breathtaking. The grand finale which finds Puss's hometown under attack from an unlikely source provides one of the more memorable visual spectacles I've seen in animation recently. It's worth noting that the 3D is very, very good. Much of the movie takes place in high locations, or in tunnels and hallways, or on open plains. These settings make use of both depth and perspective. Occasionally something whizzes toward the camera, but for the most part, the 3D is integrated in a natural manner. This is one case where I'd recommend paying for the extra dimension.

I'm not sure about the quality of the storytelling. The narrator describing the action prevented me from experiencing it organically. He made the pace of the movie feel a little off. Going out to talk to theater management also caused me to miss what must have been a key plot point, because I was a little confused as to how the characters got the beans needed to take them up the beanstalk. Maybe I would have felt more engaged by the story if not for the external distractions. I do know that I laughed. The jokes and visual gags are very amusing, largely avoiding needless pop culture references (with one notable exception) and instead finding clever sources for humor.

Perhaps it seems unfair to discuss a movie that I couldn't properly experience. I seriously considered not writing this review for that very reason. But then I thought otherwise. Even with a seriously compromised screening, I still enjoyed Puss in Boots. That says something about its quality. A good movie can override just about anything, as I found out the hard way.

( out of four)

Note: Take my rating with a grain of salt. Would it have been higher under different circumstances? This I cannot say for sure. I'm going with three stars to indicate that it's worth seeing. If I get around to seeing the movie again and feel it deserves a higher rating, I'll revise this review.

Puss in Boots is rated PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor. The running time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.