Tuesday, 29 November 2011

“Did you lose your ball of yarn?”

Puss in Boots: directed Chris Miller; written by Tom Wheeler, David H. Steinberg and Brian Lynch

Even without taking the actual movie into consideration, there is something immediately annoying about Puss in Boots. Most would agree that somewhere around the third entry the appeal of the Shrek franchise dwindled as the writers tried – with little avail – to drag their thin premises out for an hour and a half. So, it is with trepidation that I approach Puss in the Boots, because regardless of how you look at it the idea of a spin-off on a money-spewing franchise which denigrated into a critically reviled one in its last few entries reeks of nothing BUT moneygrubbing entertainment. Then, there came rumblings of the film’s alleged geniality and I figured that, perhaps, I was prejudging its potential so I entered the film with less trepidation even if I was a wee bee doubtful of it nonetheless.
Like oh, so many, cinematic criminals Puss, currently parading as something of an outlaw parading with his sword and boots is really a misunderstood lover at heart. He was an outcast orphan who latched on to his surrogate mother and his first friend – Humpty Dumpty – a sketchy character who inadvertently leads him on to a criminal path in the quest to find a collection of magic beans which will leave the person helming them to the goose that lays the golden eggs. Amidst all this we must have, of course, heroine hiding in the guise of a femme fatale. Here, she is embodied by Kitty – a double-crossing, cross dressing purring thief (and flamenco dancer). This is all set against a fairytle world which looks less like something Hans Christen Andersen or the Brothers’ Grimm imagined, and more like a Western All’Italiana typified by an extensive cast of Spanish caricatures.
It’s strange; I have nothing in particular against anthropomorphism in cinema, but my patience is slowly eking out as I become less and less enthused about the blending of genres, but what’s become less and less clear is the reason for that merging. If I wanted to see a Spaghetti Western, I’d have seen one because having the machinations of this film paraded under the guise of one adds little to the way of actual innovation, and more in the form of needless banality. The first two films of the Shrek franchise had this tendency to overflow with the popular culture references, but what made them avoid any nauseating quality was that they were actual good films with a thesis to present other than an off-putting dissemination of facileness stemming from what seems like a group of writers intent only on offering the slightest bits of innovation. If that.
Thus, when those final two plot points are revealed and we are supposed to gasp and then smile I just stare blankly at the screen wondering when it’s all going to end. Not because it so abysmal, but because it is so ineffectual in its laziness, and a bit annoying in the presumptuous nature that it seems to think that it’s actual offering up a fine film. Towards the end of the film Puss in jail, and in attempt to break out of jail he tries to hypnotise the prison guard with his eyes. It’s the same sort of brazen attempt at hypnosis which Puss in the Boots is trying to oversaturating the film with conspicuous, but ultimately, gaudy artistic work and an overwhelming plethora of pop culture references and ironies (most of which rest on “wit” of the cuddly kitten being a dangerous thief). And, ultimately, it just doesn’t wash. They lose any grasp on a credible narrative…but then, it’s quite possible that they never had any grasp on it to begin with.



Dan O. said...

I think the main reason why I liked this so much was because I have a cat and they can be pretty weird sometimes, so it was definitely cool to see them incorporate them into the story, but other than that it can drag on a bit. Good review Andrew.

CrazyCris said...

Thanks for the warning Andrew! I've been on the fence about going to see this one or not... fearing it would be rather terrible and yet very curious about it! Perhaps I'll catch it on TV someday.

Is Tintin out around your part of the world yet? I saw it a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it! The dynamic duo of Spielberg-Jackson did a great job of bringing Hergé's most famous creation to life! :o)


Paolo said...

This makes me rethink my lukewarm opinions towards the movie. It was like never ending storytelling instead of jumping for the action. I didn't miss anything by watching it in 2D. And although the pop culture references are more subtle than Shrek, I know the sequels will be worse about it.

Also Tintin is ridiculous yet awesome.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

dan by that logic i suppose i didn't like it because i don't like animals, and never had a pet. it's very possible.

crazycris; paolo i will be seeing tintin, i'm not overly anxious but we shall see...it's weird how completely UNinterested i am in seeing it, like so many of the movies i should be anticipating. weirdness.