It's been a long, long wait for cat lovers to see the crafty but cuddly codger from the Shrek movies getting top billing, and given the company he's kept, the Antonio Banderas-voiced renegade has a lot to live up to. So, are these boots made for watching? Yes, although queue in the knowledge that the fun here is for the younger end of the younger demographic rather than in-joke-seeking adults and seen-it-all-before 10-year-olds.
Set during his pre-Shrek nine lives, the story finds Puss - aka The Ginger Hitman aka Frisky Two Times - moving closer to his ultimate score when he crosses paths with Jack (Thornton) and Jill (Sedaris), the dumb-but-dangerous 'owners' of the magic beans that lead to a castle full of golden eggs. Trouble is, Puss has got some competition. Firstly, there's Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), a temptress with more than enough steel and sass to give any tomcat a complex. And then there's her associate, Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis), Puss' one-time soul brother at the orphanage where they grew up. The former partners in hustle have been obsessed about the magic beans ("the first rule of Beanclub...") since childhood, but there's bad blood/yolk between them and joining forces could bring the trio right into Treasure of Sierra Madre territory...
When it comes to life lessons about the value of teamwork and how a thing called friendship is priceless, Puss in Boots' saucer overflows. But while the animation is beautiful and the characterisation stunning, the film's big problem is that there's more here for the eyes than the ribs and when compared to another 2011 desperado, Rango, Puss comes out second best. There just aren't the gags here that make the best Shreks so rewatchable and if Hollywood asks Donkey to go it alone, he should dig his hooves in and demand final script approval.
That said, feline adoption rates should spike because of this movie's awww factor and with a box office take already of over $238m, there's hope that they can really give the cat the cream in a superb rather than sweet sequel.