NEW YORK – Frenetic action sequences are interspersed with a series of gentle moral lessons in the entertaining animated adventure “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” (Universal). While the former element makes the film too frightening for tots, all others will likely find it an enjoyable diversion.
Written accounts of the cunning cat of the title date back at least to the 16th century. In his current persona as a Zorro-like bandit, however, he began life as a character in the Shrek franchise before being given his own eponymous feature – this movie’s 2011 precursor.
Previously renowned as much for his fearlessness as for his craft, the popular hero (voice of Antonio Banderas) now faces a crisis of courage. No sooner has he realized that he is down to the last of his nine lives than he’s paralyzed with terror when confronted by an unnamed wolf bounty hunter (voice of Wagner Moura) who preys on his newly developed dread of death.
So, hoping to extend his longevity, he sets off in search of a fallen star said to have the power to grant any wish. He’s accompanied on his journey by two companions he would initially like to ditch.
Kitty Softpaws (voice of Salma Hayek Pinault) is a feline thief whose skills equal Puss’ own and with whom he shares a tangled romantic past. Perrito (voice of Harvey Guillén) is a scruffy but irrepressibly affectionate canine who has appointed himself Puss’ sidekick and best bud.
As they compete with characters from fairy tales and nursery rhymes, all out to beat them to the goal of their quest, the trio gradually bonds. Their opponents include the crime family headed by Goldi, FKA Goldilocks (voice of Florence Pugh), and rounded out by her three bears (voices of Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone and Samson Kayo) as well as Jack Horner (voice of John Mulaney), grown into a nasty adult.
Scripted by Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow, helmer Joel Crawford’s addition to the series, co-directed by Januel P. Mercado, subtly conveys insights into the importance of friendship, goodness of heart, humility, trust and teamwork. Crawford and his collaborators make skillful use of both comedy and pathos.
Warm and lively, the picture will please parents and keep youngsters attentive. Timed as a holiday treat, it’s “just right” – as Goldi might put it – for all but the tiniest.
Look for: A range of positive values touchingly communicated.
Look out for: Intense cartoon mayhem, characters in peril, a couple of crass terms and some scatological details.
The Catholic Moviegoer’s guidance is OK – suitable for older kids. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG – parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Formerly a staff member for Catholic News Service, John Mulderig has been reviewing visual media from a Catholic perspective for 15 years. His column is syndicated by Catholic Review Media.Tags: Movie Review