Plot via IMDB:
Sadly, Puss in Boots, the undaunted Spanish lover and hero, is now down to the last of his nine lives, a decade after the events of Puss in Boots (2011). And as if that weren’t enough, the unstoppable bounty hunter known as The Big Bad Wolf is after him. To restore all of his precious lives and escape an inglorious fate, Puss must pluck up his courage to embark on a dangerous quest into the Dark Forest to find the legendary Wishing Star. However, Puss isn’t the only one seeking the map to the magical star. As the daring outlaw puts his skills to good use to stay one step ahead of formidable adversaries determined to get their hands on it, a crucial question arises: Does he have what it takes to face his most skilled and terrifying opponent and get his life back on track?
I went into Puss in Boots: The Last Wish expecting a heavy dose of cat humor, some mildly entertaining kid adventure fantasy and lots of feel good moments tied up in a sweet trite moral. What I got was surprising: a poetic well conceived meditation on death that slips easily into both a child’s and parent’s view of mortality. What I got was a Grimm’s fairy tale, that of the genre mixing Shrek kind.
The Shrek elements mash together Goldilocks and the Three Bears with the Big Bad Wolf of Little Red Riding Hood.
Goldilocks, voiced by a way into character Florence Pugh, is the cockney accented tough girl leader of the Bear clan, who like all the other searchers in this fairy tale, is looking for that one true wish that could be granted by a hidden magical tree in the middle of a magical forest. The three bears—mama, papa and baby, voiced with moll charm and raffish oblivious bickering by respectively Olivia Coleman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo– function as the child units of Goldilocks. They are in the face obvious “just right” family that is her wish and heart’s desire. There is no wandering from the Bruno Bettelheim fairy tale vision here. The family is the moral and the moral is the family.
The Big Bad Wolf (Wagner Moura) serves as the minor usurper of this bear clan family dynamic, the force of havoc and destruction. Since he also wears a black cloak and wields double scythes he is also Death incarnate. He’s the enemy and villain of the immortality seeking Puss in Boots, voiced by the ever charming, suave and confident Antonio Banderas. Puss is down to the last of his nine cat lives. A confrontation with mortality and Death is definitely coming. Since this is a family film, Death can not and will not, stake a tragic claim here. The nick of mortality, what Puss calls the Spanish Splinter, is sufficient to remind Puss of the other important things beyond fame and immortality.
These are family, friends and love. Love is embodied by the female swashbuckling competition of Kitty Softpaws, voiced with oozing soft sexiness and wit by Salma Hayek. His adopted faux cat but really a dog companion, Perrito (Harvey Guillen) rounds out the unaware but still obvious family dynamics. They are the other real family waiting to be discovered, the friends that make the chosen life family.
The one element that refuses family, the greedy, vain little Jack Horner, (John Mulaney) gets banished to the realm of death in the finale.
There is a middle sequence where Puss must confront, reconcile and work with his previous lives to overcome Death’s grip that gives The Final Wish the poetic insight it had been building towards. It’s all handled with a whimsical, charming light but still serious touch designed to please both parent and child. The Big Bad Wolf may be scary but it’s the kind of echo left behind in a half-remembered nightmare with a happy ending. It only slightly jars amidst the adventure and high jinks, a reminder that immortality must yield to mortality.
It’s something only parents with very young children might be wary exposing their children too. For those with kids over seven it’s not anything these more mature little ones can’t handle.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish gets a 3.5 out of 5 or a B+.
- Paul Fisher
- Tommy Swerdlow
- Tommy Swerdlow
- Tom Wheeler
Based onPuss in Boots
by Giovanni Francesco Straparola
- Antonio Banderas
- Salma Hayek Pinault
- Harvey Guillén
- Florence Pugh
- Olivia Colman
- Ray Winstone
- Samson Kayo
- John Mulaney
- Wagner Moura
- Da’Vine Joy Randolph
- Anthony Mendez
Edited byJames RyanMusic byHeitor Pereira
- December 13, 2022(Lincoln Center)
- December 21, 2022(United States)
Running time102 minutes
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