Puss in boots with a sword
Puss in Boots tackles adult themes of mortality and anxiety with a grace not often given to recent children’s movies. Image: Puss in Boots/Dreamworks Animation
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A surprising hit that is borderline high art

Puss in Boots is a shockingly poignant film, drawing on very mature subjects like anxiety, depression and mortality, contrasted with cute animated visuals. But — strangely — it works, and makes this movie a must-watch.

The film opens on a falling star that can grant any wish. It then cuts to titular character, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas), in a village, slaying a literal giant with a full musical cast spurring him on. Unfortunately, the village bell suddenly falls and crushes him. Afterwards, a doctor tells him he has died, leaving Puss in Boots on his last life.

Shortly after, he’s confronted by the hooded wolf, Death (Wagner Moura), who sends Puss into an anxious spiral and into retirement. After burying his clothes, he goes into an old lady’s home, where he meets wannabe therapy dog, Perrito (Harvey Guillén). After Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the three bears come to find him to help them find the fallen star, he realizes this is the way to get his life as Puss in Boots back. He runs into Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Penault) and Puss, Kitty, and Perrito journey to the star, where they must race against Jack Horner (John Mulaney), and Goldilocks and the three bears, to get to the wish first.

This film is the definition of don’t judge a book by its cover, as this is a great watch for any age, and arguably even better for adults. The barrier to entry is low, since you do not have to watch any other Puss in Boots or Shrek franchise movies to follow the story here.

The humour is fantastic, with visual gags that will have cat lovers in stitches, and the jokes are hit after hit. Mulaney is a great childlike villain; his stubbornness and evil are tangible throughout. Puss, Kitty, and Perrito are given the most attention and are easy to get behind. The dynamic between the three is great, with a lot of bouncing off each other, and makes it genuinely fun to watch them on screen. Moura’s portrayal of Death is menacing but riveting. 

Several scenes genuinely bring tears to the eyes, like Perrito’s backstory. One of the most interesting themes was anxiety, with Puss shown to have panic attacks in a surprisingly realistic manner. Themes of adoption and family are also touched on, and are dealt with in a manner that even films created for older audiences struggle to handle.

This film is a must-watch, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this becomes a cult classic. Whether in theatres or when it comes to streaming, it’s a fun and touching film that is wholesome watch — just don’t forget to have a couple of tissues on hand.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars