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PUSS IN BOOTS: The Last Wish

2022 was a good year for DreamWorks.

I was pleasantly surprised by both The Bad Guys and Puss in Boots, but the latter was particularly delightful. I never saw the first Puss in Boots movie, (I was too mistrustful after the disaster that is Shrek: Forever After) but from all that I have seen, I am frankly overjoyed to announce that this is the first good Shrek movie since Shrek 2. Not seeing the original won’t hinder your understanding or enjoyment of the sequel at all, and seeing as the original came out 11 years ago, I think this is some well crafted filmmaking on their part to make a movie that is at once a sequel yet entirely self-contained.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish follows the titular fearless hero on one of his many zany adventures, which, unfortunately, ends up being his last. But it’s all right, because Puss is a cat, and cats have 9 lives! Well, it turns out this death was actually Puss’ 8th, which makes this his last life. This changes Puss’ perspective greatly, and puts some real fear into him for the very first time. Just as he’s about to retire his boots for good, Puss learns that the Wishing Star is real, and someone has the map that will both lead you to and allow you to use the one wish it will grant. He can get ALL of his lives back!


I hardly know where to begin praising this movie. Everything from the story (Tommy Swerdlo, Tom Wheeler, Paul Fisher) to the animation (Joel Crawford - The Croods) was incredibly charming, while still showing gravity and respect to the areas of the movie that deserve it. Every performance was perfect, each character was unique and interesting and added to the overall experience. Upon leaving the movie theater the first thing I did was download the movie’s soundtrack, and have yet to stop listening to it every few days. But let’s go ahead and start by discussing performances.

Antonio Banderas (Shrek, Spykids, Mask of Zorro) is, of course, perfect in the role of Puss in Boots. We all know Puss in Boots wouldn’t be the same character at all without Banderas playing him – he is the secret sauce that has made the character such an icon.

This movie was my introduction to Kitty Softpaws, but I thought Selma Hayek (Frida, House of Gucci, Hitman’s Bodyguard) was also quite perfect in her role. She gave us an epic, hardcore thief who was just the right amount of vulnerable at the right times, which was exactly what the story needed her to be. Without having seen the first movie, I understood Kitty and Puss’ history and chemistry from their first words of dialogue in Jack Horner’s office, which is a testament not just of the writers’ abilities, but also the actors themselves. Speaking of Jack Horner… I have a little something to admit. I’m not a huge fan of celebrities being shoved into animated roles just because they’re popular (and in fact turned off the Chip ‘n Dale movie’s trailer the second I heard the voice of John Mulaney [Saturday Night Live, Big Mouth, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse]), but throughout the entirety of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, I kept thinking, “Who is playing Jack Horner? He sounds so familiar and he’s doing such a good job!”

Suffice it to say, when I saw John Mulaney’s name come up during the credits, I screamed right then and there in the movie theater. But he really did do quite a fantastic job in this film, making this caricature of a nursery rhyme into a classically pure evil villain who was a lot of fun to spend time with on screen.

Last but not least, Harvey Guillien’s (What We Do in the Shadows) Perrito, the chihuahua who wants to be a cat, turned out to be a much more enjoyable character than the trailers might have led you to believe. The audience takes a journey with him much like Puss and Kitty do: you start off pretty annoyed by him, but as the full scope of his history and personality are revealed to you, you realize he’s a pretty sweet little guy and you’re glad he’s along for the ride.

Now for the B plot players: Goldi and the Three Bears Crime Family. I don’t know where to begin praising them either, since it seemed they might be lightweights with big fists – yet each was perfectly cast. We’ll start with Goldi herself, though. Florence Pugh (Hawkeye, The Wonder, Midsommar, Don’t Worry Darling) gives us a truly awesome rough-and-tumble thief, but as you slowly discover Goldi’s past and her motivation for being here…my heart was squeezed by the scenes between Goldi and her mother played by Olivia Coleman (The Favourite, Empire of Light), who, by the way, gives us a truly beautiful picture of motherhood. She loves her two children equally and completely, and is willing not just to let Goldi make her own decisions about her happiness, but help her no matter what those decisions may be. Baby (Samson Kayo) and Papa Bear (Ray Winstone) round out the family dynamic wonderfully, Baby and Goldi giving us a classic argumentative sibling duo, and Papa Bear’s “interfering” was hilarious every time. This storyline was definitely one of my favorites in the movie.

The hidden gem in this picture is the bounty hunter chasing down Puss and was just WOW! (Elysium) gave a splendidly creepy and menacing performance. And that haunting whistle managed to actually send chills down my spine. We feel viscerally every time Puss looks over his shoulder or in the shadows and sees this rival and specter of death. Yet the humor built into their bantering stichomythia is hilarious, but just grin, don’t laugh – you’ll want to hear every whispered syllable. This adds to and is enhanced by the paper-drawn graphic novel animation style of the scene work.


Heitor Pereira‘s (Despicable Me) soundtrack and score for this movie are SPELLBINDING. ‘Fearless Hero’ has been playing in my head and on my playlist on repeat for two weeks now, but beyond that, the score of the movie…I don’t have the words to describe how fanTAStic it is. The dramatic timing while watching the film is perfect, every little bit of the music adds so much to each scene. Masterfully done.

I don’t know who at DreamWorks was in charge of the art direction for this movie, but I’m willing to bet it was the same person from The Bad Guys and whoever they are they need a raise and a promotion, stat! The 2D/3D storybook style is not only breathtakingly beautiful for the backgrounds, but adorable and fascinating to watch for the characters themselves. Some people may have been put off by the way the action sequences almost went single-frame in this movie, but I thought it was genius and made you really feel like you were turning the pages of a book. It made everything so fun to watch, it was truly unique and fresh and new!

Now for warnings. I don’t think there’s really anything that needs to be warned against in this movie, except for the bounty hunter. There are some kids who might be scared of him, but I don’t think most will be. This was really a perfect family movie.

In summary: this was one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years. The themes of learning to trust, making the most of the limited time you have, and appreciating your family really hit home. I unfortunately can’t talk too much about the main theme of the movie without giving away its biggest spoiler, but there are many YouTube videos discussing Puss’ fear of death and the realistic anxiety he experiences throughout the movie because of it, many of which I’ve seen and highly recommend. If you have the chance to see this movie in the theaters, especially in 3D, you should really try to. If not, it’s already available to stream at home (see it on the biggest screen you’ve got with the lights off) – so please check this movie out whatever way works and prepare for one truly spectacular ride.

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My nine year old loved this movie. And it was fun for us parents too. Thanks for the recommendation!

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