Thursday’s Tale: Puss in Boots (2011)

At this point, I feel an obligation to see the fairy tale remakes that have been populating both the tv screen and the theaters, at least that’s the excuse I gave my husband for wanting to see Puss in Boots. In truth, I’ve had a crush on Antonia Banderas for years and the fact that he was again voicing this character first introduced in Shrek 2 made it a must-see. We did not see the 3D version, just the normal one. I’ve mentioned before I’m just sick of 3D and I’m so glad our theater has begun offering options.

First off, though, this version of Puss in Boots has little in common with Perrault’s story, other than a cat that talks and wears boots. In this fractured fairy tale, a whole batch of Grimm and Mother Goose characters show up, but none follow the traditional storylines.

This spaghetti western opens in a tavern, with the patrons and barkeeper suggesting potential places for Puss to steal from, but for each he has a reason not to. You see, Puss may be an outlaw, but he’s an outlaw with morals. As we learn through a series of flashbacks, he was wrongly accused of a crime in his hometown, disgracing him, and disappointing his mama, the woman who runs the orphanage where he grew up.

Puss is determined to clear his name, and he thinks he has the purrfect plan. Jack and Jill, a redneck husband and wife pair, have the magic beans, you know the ones that grow the beanstalk that lead to the castle where the golden goose lives. If he can get enough gold to pay back the town, he can become  a hero. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one after the gold. Humpty Dumpty, a childhood friend turned enemy, has his own plan.

It’s such a fun, Zorro-y tale, and Puss, the great lover that he claims to be, even has his own Bond girl, Kitty Softpaws. Their flamenco dance fight was priceless. But Puss is always at his funniest doing regular cat things, like sipping milk or chasing a light.

There are a couple of odd spots, like the goose is just a little gosling, still with its fuzzy yellowish feather. She’s adorable, but it’s just off. She’s guarded by Mother Goose, a huge goose who only honks. A small tangent: I never quite get movies where some of the animals can talk and some can’t. I feel a little bad for the ones that aren’t main characters, who can’t talk, or walk on two feet.

Overall, it’s a great family movie, and just what I expected. In true genre fashion, Puss’ story is one of honor and shame, filial piety and family ties, corruption and redemption. And in this Latin world the visuals are top-notch, from details in fur and fabric to beautiful scenes with moonlight and shadow to grandly choreographed action sequences across rooftops.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

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