Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is exactly the story that audiences who have grown with the DreamWorks franchise need to hear about mortality and personal growth.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, directed by Joel Crawford is technically a sequel to the movie made a decade ago, but knowing nothing about its presence treating this as a standalone movie, aside from Antonio Banderas’ voice given to the feisty feline is expected.
Deviated from the Shrek series, Puss in Boots became a firm favourite character after being introduced in Shrek 2 nearly twenty years ago: his ego, his reputation, and his tenacity to get into precarious situations acted as his calling card to hook audiences on his charming suave demeanour.
However, after all these years, Puss’ mortality is catching up with him, now on his final of nine lives, he hears a rumour of a fallen star that will grant one wish to the first who finds it.
Except, this is within the realm of fantasy, so Puss in Boots isn’t the only fairytale character that wishes to fulfil their heart’s desire.
Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the three bears, Ray Winstone, Olivia Colman and Samson Kayo – Papa, Mumma and Baby bear respectively, as well as Little Jack Horner (John Mulaney) fight and race our mortal hero with comedic charm.
Bringing back Salma Hayek from the original spin-off film, and adding What We Do In the Shadow‘s Harvey Guillen makes for a refreshing cast filling the Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz hole of the Shrek franchise.
What Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is therefore a surprisingly adult animation about death, mortality, and accepting that with age, comes fragility.
Oddly, when it is described as adult, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has more expletives than any of its counterparts added together, with crap being said multiple times, a character being called a cocksucker, and a sequence that involves Perrito (Guillen) running a foul mouth, which in this sole instance is bleeped even after the damage has been done.
Yet, given twenty years, and therefore audiences have matured, grown, and possibly been witness to death in some capacity, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish serves as both a reminder to hold onto the past, but to move forward, reflective and carrying the weight of what was.
Cynically though, I do wonder if Puss in Boots: The Last Wish serves as a way to gauge audience interest in Shrek 5, as after Universal Studios purchased DreamWorks Animation, the project of a fifth sequel has been long-rumoured, so would make economic sense to test the waters with its spin-off associate in order to gauge interest, and more importantly, economic viability.
Either way, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has been nominated for Best Animation at the Academy Awards, and with its genius use of frame rates, slowing down the foes, whilst Puss’ cat-like reflexes allow him control of the scene, and art styles, in addition to its mature themes, it is evident as to why.
But with an additional sequence at the end of the film where Puss, Kitty Softclaws (Hayek) and Perrito return to Far Far Away, the possibility of seeing Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz reprise their roles once more seems likely possibility, which if it too will be strong in its themes of growing older and moving on, then that would be an emotional bookend to a beloved franchise.
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