Arguably the most popular supporting character in the Shrek films, the suave, swashbuckling Puss in Boots gets his own tale in a film that embraces the highly developed sense of honor and esprit de corps of its protagonist.
Like the Shrek films, Puss in Boots mixes in several familiar storybook elements. Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) grow up together as brothers in an orphanage, dreaming of finding the magic beans that will sprout a gigantic beanstalk that leads to a giant's castle holding the goose that lays golden eggs.
Dumpty eventually falls into a life of crime, prompting Puss to echo their orphanage mother's plea that Dumpty is "better than this." Puss' loyalty to his brother ends up leading Puss to the wrong side of the law and an acrimonious break with Dumpty. Some time later, Dumpty reconnects with Puss and convinces Puss to join him and Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) in retrieving the long-sought magic beans from a pair of overweight redneck outlaws, Jack and Jill (Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris).
While the Shrek films were filled, for better and worse, with pop culture references, Puss in Boots (rated PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor) is a refreshingly straightforward fantasy adventure tale.
The writers do an admirable job of filling out the character of Puss in Boots, and Banderas' voice performance is pitch perfect. The engaging, flirtatious, increasingly serious banter that comprises the relationship between Puss and Kitty Softpaws is one of the film's pleasures and strengths, as is the vocal chemistry between Banderas and Hayek. Puss and Dumpty's relationship is even more interesting because of the complicated and conflicting feelings a long and broken history between brothers can generate.
Though laced with light comedy and delightful romance, the film digs surprisingly-and effectively-deep into the meaning of true brotherly love, loyalty, forgiveness, and sacrifice.