Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is worth all nine lives.
I would give my last life to watch”Puss in Boots: The Last Wish for the first time again. I went to the Village Cinema in Pullman, WA to see it and it single-handedly raised my standards for animated films.
I tend to go into animated films with lower expectations due to their mediocre animation and predictable storylines. But this film had a perfect balance of romance, friendship, action and humor presented in a top notch animation style that I had never seen before.
Seats in the Pullman Theater are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. When we entered the cinema five minutes before the start time, we were shocked to find that the only seats available were in the very front row. (I’ve never been in a Pullman movie as packed as this one.)
Rather than fret over how close I was to the screen, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to see all the details of the animation.
The traditional animation style of other Dreamworks films such as Shrek uses a combination of 3D CG animation. However, the style used for the film Puss in Boots focused on a less realistic approach to animation and used a “painterly” aesthetic to achieve a more artistic approach.
This animation style somehow felt like the “real” elements, like life lessons, were more important to absorb due to the creative approach.
Life lessons and fairy tales have always had a close relationship. In general, these life lessons are for younger audiences, but I left the cinema with a newfound purpose.
The film essentially follows Puss in Boots on his journey to appreciate his past life. Cats have nine lives and at the beginning of the story he is spending his eighth life on the streets after an epic fight.
After his eighth life ends, he is greeted by The Big Bad Wolf, aka Death, who comes to collect the heroic cat’s ninth and final life. He enters with a creepy whistle that not only made Puss’s body hair stand on end, but mine as well.
I’m not usually afraid of the villains in stories like this, but if I were greeted by The Big Bad Wolf before I died, my boots would tremble.
The classic trope of an old lover reappearing at an important time in someone’s life was a big part of this story, along with the random sidekick who gets involved in the journey.
Kitty Softpaws was the love interest in the story that got involved when Goldilocks and the Three Bears (bounty hunters) hired her to help find the Wishing Star map.
The bounty hunters went in search of Puss, but since he retreated to save his last life, they assumed he was dead. He ended up going to an old cat lady’s house, where he grew his facial hair and looked like a domestic pet.
The elements of personalizing his character to resemble a wrecked hero with grown facial hair was so entertaining and relatable compared to other heroes who feel like they’ve lost their sense of purpose.
At home, he meets random sidekick, a dog named Perrito who’s disguised as a cat. After hearing about the map, Puss decides to risk his last life to wish for the rest of his life back. He escapes the house, followed by Perrito, and encounters his ex-flame, Kitty Softpaws.
On their journey, Perrito tells Puss and Kitty about the trauma he suffered as a puppy and how he thought his family would play with him every time they left him.
There are numerous theories about this story and the characters, including one about the contrast between Perrito and The Big Bad Wolf.
For one, the two are the just Dogs throughout the film and the explicit characterization of Death regarding the wolf leads me to believe that the optimism Perrito has regarding life is that he is the epitome of life itself.
The trio along with Goldilocks and the three bears aren’t the only ones after The Wishing Star. Jack Horner, whose nursery rhyme evokes greed and opportunism, desires all the power in the world.
I really enjoyed writing the film and how much they poked fun at Big Jack’s character’s materialism and over-devotion to capitalism. He’s the classic character who wants to rule the world, which is always one of my favorites because we all know someone who acts like him.
The plot was somewhat predictable, but the suspense was still gripping. At the end of the story, an epic battle ensues between the Big Bad Wolf and Puss in Boots with the motive of preserving his last life as long as possible. Puss wins the fight, accepting that he and Death will meet again in the future.
Another theory I found interesting throughout the play was the relationship between Death and Puss. In the beginning, Puss in Boots repeated the phrase “Puss in Boots laughs at death” and lost almost every fight with the wolf. In the end he is much stronger and wins.
The theory itself was that he was ready to fight for his last life as he had found a deeper purpose than being a hero because he had met so many incredible people and experiences along the way.
The ability to transform classic stories into deeper and more creative plots is truly admirable and the authors of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish handled it perfectly, with relatable comic relief on top of treating real issues and budding romance.