‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’: refreshingly mature and visually stunning for a children’s movie


Universal Pictures

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” can be summed up by describing its opening sequence: well-choreographed action, set to catchy and bombastic music with death looming around the corner.

The opening scene features Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) fighting a large monster animated with a lower frame rate than the rest of the characters in the movie, giving its movements a clunkier and slower appearance. Through the movie the animators use tools like this in fresh and innovative ways, which leaves a strong positive impression on the audience.

While fighting the monster, Puss has a band play a song about him called “Fearless Hero,” and I had it stuck in my head for weeks after watching the movie. The movie’s soundtrack complements the film without siphoning the audience’s attention away from the other great things about it.

Following this opening sequence, Puss struggles with his mortality – he has lost his eighth of nine lives. 

Puss is initially unfazed by being down to the last of his nine lives, and displays his arrogance on full blast through catchphrases that declare he will never die or even be hurt. Despite this, Puss gets a reality check when a bounty-hunting wolf  after the bounty on Puss’s head(Wagner Moura) draws his blood and, for the first time, makes him feel fear.

Fleeing from death, Puss goes into hiding with Mama Luna (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), where he discovers the existence of a map to a legendary wish-granting object called the Wishing Star. The rest of the movie follows Puss and his friends Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek Pinault) and the nameless dog (Harvey Gullién) as they search for the Wishing Star. 

One of the groups the main characters have to compete with is the Three Bears Crime Family. The group is made up of Goldi (Florence Pugh), Mama (Olivia Colman), Papa (Ray Winstone) and Baby (Samson Kayo). Even though they are not her biological family, Goldi takes on the role of leader. The contrast between these two roles drives a conflict between Goldi and her family, but this conflict is well resolved by the movie’s end. The found family aspect of the Three Bears Crime Family story complements the relationship that the movie shows between Puss and his allies. That being said, the “too much, too little, just right” gag that the writers inserted into what felt like every scene with the bears was fairly grating by the end of the movie.

Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney) is an evil, grown-up version of the nursery rhyme character Little Jack Horner who is also searching for the star. He has become obsessed with magic out of jealousy for the other more popular fairy tale characters. He and his henchmen, the Baker’s Dozen, want to find the wishing star so that he can complete his collection of magical objects.

Throughout the movie, Puss’s brushes with death cause him to experience panic attacks. He is helped through these by the dog he travels with, who wants to become a therapy dog. Therapy is an underlying theme of the movie, with Puss needing the process to help resolve both his arrogance and his feelings towards death.

The main message of the film comes from the wish that the Macguffin provides the one who finds it. 

Though the other two groups are working to get their leaders the wish, Puss and his friends cannot decide if Puss or Kitty should get the wish when they make it to the end of the map. While they want to use the star to make their lives better, the third member of their party is perfectly happy with their horrible life, wanting to let one of their friends make a wish. 

The opposite of the dog’s point of view is that of Big Jack Horner, who has no appreciation for any of the variety of things he is privileged enough to have. 

Overall, this movie was in every way a cut above the other children’s movies I’ve seen. The simple visual and audio aspects of the movie are incredible, the characters are all funny yet compelling and the morals of the story ring true while still being fresh compared to a typical kids’ movie lesson.