A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this spin-off of the popular Shrek franchise has some mild innuendo, cartoonish violence, and one character death. Tense/perilous scenes include several duels, an elaborate "dance off," a cannon/gun fight, a "monster" chase, and a character who willingly plummets to their death. There are a couple of double-meaning jokes and a repeated mention that Puss is a "lover," as well as a funny conversation about starting a family between the villainous Jack and Jill. Overall this animated adventure is aimed at kids young and old, although families with adopted children should note that (once again) the main character is an orphan. The 3-D factor makes a couple of scenes slightly more intense, but it's nothing overly dramatic, so you won't miss out if you catch it in 2D.
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What's the story?
In this Shrek prequel, audiences meet "outlaw" cat Puss in Boots (voiced by Antonio Banderas), who was once his small town's hero (having earned his signature boots as a thank you for saving the town from catastrophe) but is branded a criminal after unwittingly participating in a heist with his orphanage bosom friend, Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). The two friends meet via Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a cat burglar whom Puss is instantly attracted to, and team up to steal three magic beans from the scheming Jack (Billy Bob Thornton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris) in order to plant the tree and access the golden goose and her magical golden eggs. But once the goose is secured, Puss realizes Humpty has ulterior motives, and Kitty must choose between her agreed-upon caper and her heart.
Is it any good?
This extremely enjoyable animated adventure boasts a purr-fect leading performance by Banderas. Unlike Shrek, which is more of an ensemble with a cast of zany fairy tale supporting characters, PUSS IN BOOTS is definitely Puss' story, with the occasional zinger from the secondary players. The in joke of reuniting Desperado costars Banderas and Hayek, who have chemistry even in animated feline form, is a bonus treat for their fans, as is the hilarious dialogue between the frighteningly unattractive Jack and Jill -- voiced with smoky Southern drawls by Thorton and Sedaris.
Puss is known for rendering foes and friends speechless with his adorably huge eyes, and that's pretty much how this entire movie feels -- that kitty is irresistible with his charms, whether you're a fetching animated feline or a rapt audience member. Milking his Spanish accent for all it's worth, Banderas has created a lovable character who, like Zorro, is roguish but righteous, sexy but sweet, and completely unforgettable. Although there aren't as many fresh fairy tale characters here as in the Far Far Away tales, this spin-off stands on its own paws with an entertaining and endearing adventure that both kids and grown-ups will enjoy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's message that it's our choices who make us who we are -- not whether we're labeled as "good," "bad," or even "wanted" by the law. How do Puss and Humpty change throughout the movie? What is their friendship's lesson about revenge and honesty?
Do you need to be familiar with the Shrek movies to enjoy this spin-off? Do you think there should be more Puss adventures, or should there be another spin-off from the original Shrek flicks?
Shrek products are available everywhere, so Puss in Boots is likely to be featured on everything from pajamas to video games. If you like Puss and his pals, does seeing him on merchandise make you want to buy them more? How can you avoid getting sucked into the commercial aspect of a movie?
- In theaters: October 28, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: February 24, 2012
- Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis
- Director: Chris Miller
- Studio: DreamWorks Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some adventure action and mild rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.