Now Playing: ‘Puss in Boots’ Is the Cat’s Meow

I’m an odd fan of the movies set in the ‘Shrek‘ universe. The way I see it, the original ‘Shrek’ is a mediocre family flick. The best of the series, ‘Shrek 2’ is absolutely hilarious. ‘Shrek the Third’ is downright awful, completely unwatchable. And ‘Shrek Forever After’ is on the same level as the original, nothing to write home about. Now the franchise heads into dangerous spin-off territory with ‘Puss in Boots’ – and it honestly couldn’t have been done any better.

From the director of the third ‘Shrek’ and the collective writers of that film, ‘Hop‘, ‘American Pie 2’ and ‘The Cape‘, how could this happen? How could a spin-off of a nearly-dead franchise be so good? Just as Warner Bros. has hired Christopher Nolan to be the overseeing “godfather” to the D.C. comic book movies, DreamWorks has employed Guillermo del Toro to keep a watchful eye on the studio’s animated flicks, even giving him the power to re-author screenplays as needed. I give him the credit for both ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’ and ‘Puss in Boots’ being such strong sequels/spin-offs.

‘Puss in Boots’ is an origin story for the legendary outlaw feline. In it, he describes his upbringing at an orphanage where his only friend was Humpty Dumpty. As they grew older, the friends grew apart and went separate directions. Puss went down the road of honesty and integrity, while Humpty became a bad egg.

Jealous of the way that the town loves Puss, Humpty sets him up for a trap that ruins his image. Now an outlaw on the run, Puss looks to set things right, and he can only do it with the help of Humpty. Although not a single other character from the ‘Shrek‘ films makes an appearance in ‘Puss in Boots’, the film is set in the same universe – with Puss and Humpty heading off on a familiar fairy tale of their own.

Despite not having nearly as many adult innuendos as the ‘Shrek’ movies, ‘Puss in Boots’ is still the type of animated kids’ flick that adults will enjoy just as much as children. It’s a stand-alone story of its own; you don’t need to have seen a single frame from a ‘Shrek’ movie to understand and enjoy ‘Puss in Boots’.

Filled with comedy, charm and heart, ‘Puss in Boots’ is the best ‘Shrek’-based film since the terrific ‘Shrek 2’.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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