In 2004 Shrek 2 was released, and one of my favourite sidekicks was introduced to me, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas). The character, on top of being a fairy tale/nursery rhyme character, was a straight up spoof of Zorro, a character that Banderas played in the film adaptation of the TV series (I’m unsure if the character existed prior to the series). I loved Puss. He was the right level of ridiculous adding a dash of cuteness. Every scene he managed with every line delivery to make me laugh and that’s what I had hoped, if not more, for this spin-off.
With that said though, I’m going to have to drop this film into two very definite categories: (a) great as a side character but not enough there for a full-length films; (b) a children’s movie that wasn’t really meant for adults. I start to wonder if my love for the Shrek films – I know the third film is horrible – was just my younger mind being the target demographic at the time.
Somehow the moment you take that very serious commanding voice of Antonio Banderas and put into the body of a “bad kitty” and you have instant comedy, as opposed to every one of his films (Desperado, Four Rooms & The Mask of Zorro) and the comedy changes to a dangerous menacing hero. It’s almost as if our own film expectations are what make things funny or unfunny in film. The moment we expect this character to be a badass just by looking at him it’s not that funny, but when it unassuming then it’s hysterical to watch a bar full of big bearded men being beat up by a tinny kitty cat.
However, the voice of Banderas truly isn’t enough to sell a film. The story itself is whimsical and almost there as something to get us to the next scene where we’re just going to be even more silly (yes I’m looking at you cat dance off to Rodrigo y Gabriella song).
I would be lying if I didn’t say that the film at the end of the day plays it fully to its target market. The children in the theatre were enjoying the movie so much that if you have a young child, cousin, etc and they’re asking to go then you have your movie partner.