Review: Puss In Boots

(PG) ****

Director: Chris Miller.

Cast: (voices of) Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis.

THE good news is that this Shrek spin-off is better than the last two ogre-ish sequels of that series combined, but that's damning this family friendly adventure with faint praise.

With Banderas' scene-stealing feline finally getting his own film, the franchise now has a worthy successor to the two original Shrek movies.

This stylish CG outing works as an origin story of sorts, with Puss forced to deal with his past when he crosses paths with Humpty Dumpty (Galifianakis) - an old friend from his orphanage days - who is on the trail of finding the magic beans that will lead him to the golden goose.

In the mix is Kitty Softpaws (Hayek), a cat burglar (pardon the pun) who has formed an uneasy alliance with Puss and Humpty as they attempt to get the beans from the nepharious Jack and Jill.

Splashed with hints of western to spice up its fairytale sources, Puss In Boots is inventive, funny and wildly entertaining. Puss himself has been deserving of his own movie since appearing in Shrek 2 and this doesn't disappoint. Banderas' voicework continues to be colourful without being over-the-top, and he is matched by Hayek and Galifianakis, with the latter's character proving to be a surprisingly complex creation for a "kids" movie.

But this isn't just for kids. There are enough grown-up jokes to fill the gaps between all-ages laughs and slapstick, and the story locks together intelligently without reverting to the dumbed down pop culture references that plagued the latter Shrek sequels.

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