By: Amanda Guarragi
For many, living life to the fullest comes in many forms. If we’re lucky, we keep evolving and growing into different people as time goes on. Life is about exploring and experiencing special moments with your loved ones. It’s hard to gauge the value of one’s life, but time does tell how we appreciate the things around us. In Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, Puss (Antonio Banderas) is on his last life. As a cat, he thought he could live forever because of his nine lives, but without realizing it, Puss has died eight times in his lengthy career as a hero (or outlaw). Without knowing he can be invincible, he faces death (a wolf as a bounty hunter), which greatly affects him. He doesn’t perform as he usually does and runs away from his problems instead of facing them head-on. In this film, Puss understands the meaning of friendship, loyalty, and the importance of working with others. A strong support system is truly one of the most important things in life, and many take that for granted.
The adventure that Puss goes on is a simple one. He overhears Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and her family of bears discussing a plan to get the map for the wishing star from Jack Horner (John Mulaney). So, this naturally turns into a heist film with some incredible animation. The action is well-executed from the beginning of this film because of the different animation styles incorporated. It was fast-paced, fun, and entertaining. The one thing the Shrek franchise has always done extremely well is reimagining the fables and fairytales that we’ve known for decades. They give these characters different backstories and plant references throughout the film. They have consistently used nostalgic objects and names to have the audience clue in but change the expectation of the narrative. Writers Tommy Swerdlow, Tom Wheeler and Paul Fisher delivered a wonderful adventure for Puss but also uniquely developed Goldilocks and Jack Horner’s stories.
Puss explores his feelings as he goes on this journey. He reflects on his life and realizes he should have people to share his life with. Puss thinks he needs to wish for nine more lives, but on the way, his little dog companion Perro (Harvey Guillén) teaches him to be grateful for the life you have. Once Puss and Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) steal the map from Jack Horner and Goldilocks, they had to the dark forest to find the star. This is where the world-building gets fun in the magical realm. Whoever places their hand on the map has to go through certain obstacles that reflect the wish’s desire. Not only are the obstacles physical, but they are also psychological and affect the thought process of the person making the wish. It is a layered story for the characters who want to make their wish. And it explains how to make decisions, not only for yourself but for the others around you.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is entertaining from beginning to end and shows the value of friendship in the one life you have to live. The films in the Shrek franchise have always been consistent in their humour and made it appealing to both adults and children. More importantly, this film addresses anxiety in a way children can understand and adults can relate to. The power of animation shows the exact feeling of it through Puss, and it’s subtle. This is a well-rounded animated feature with a fun adventure, well-written characters and an important lesson about gratitude. Even though Banderas has played Zorro, Puss in Boots is still one of his best roles because of how much heart he pours into the character through the dialogue. This sequel took a decade to be released and it was worth the wait. There is a reason why DreamWorks was at the top of its game, and this film is a reminder of the incredible work they’ve done over the years.