Charles Merritt is surprised at the spiritual lessons he found in a film about a classic hero
The Film: Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
Watch if you liked: Shrek, Shrek 2, Puss in Boots
Running time: 100 mins
Genre: Adventure, Comedy
Overview: When Puss in Boots gets to the last of his nine lives, he seeks to cheat Death by using the power of the wishing star - but he’s not the only one wanting to make a wish…
What you liked
Animation is often dismissed as for children, however it is such an artistic medium that allows the filmmakers to be uniquely expressive in their style and delivery. Dreamworks continues to use the blend of 2D and 3D animation from their recent release of ‘The Bad Guys’, which was most famously used in Sony’s ‘Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse’, and the creative choice produces some gorgeous shots.
The film is funny, heart-warming and adventurous. I love a good swashbuckling adventure and the film delivers this in bucketloads with a fast paced, action packed, cleverly choreographed opening sequence set to a driving, inspirational musical number. The song was so good that I thought that Dreamworks had continued their trusty formula of adapting an old pop song and turning it into a heroic masterpiece (I’m looking at you, Shrek 2 and ‘Holding Out For A Hero’) but I was pleasantly surprised that it was specifically written for the film whilst equally saddened to learn that it wasn’t nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars…
The adventure that follows the toe-tapping swordplay opening is an incredibly creative one with twists and turns throughout. The map they’re following changes the landscape of the journey depending on who is holding it, which leads to some wonderful moments that are charged with plenty of comedy as well as a lot of pathos.
As the film begins, a title card reads: This is a fairytale. And like all good fairytales, this one is packed with a solid moral message. Read on to find out more…
What you didn’t like
I’m nitpicking here. After the energetic opening sequence, the film loses momentum for a while. However, in a packed cinema, I did not notice any children becoming restless during the quieter moments which is always a good sign. The villain is quite scary for younger children so that is worth bearing in mind. There is also a bit of mild language and a couple of bleeped out swears used for comedic effect.
The animation, whilst mostly beautiful, does sometimes feel a little forced in its attempt to be artistic and Florence Pugh’s voice work is surprisingly unnuanced as Goldilocks (I normally find her a phenomenal actress, so it took me by surprise when I found out it was her).
Thoughts for parents:
For what is marketed as a family film - although this adult in his mid-20s going solo had a great time - the films themes are very grown up. Puss in Boots grapples for the first time with his mortality and questions the choices he has made in his other eight lives. He ponders on whether his legendary status was really worth the loneliness it resulted in.
What image of ourselves do we present to the young people and children in our lives? Is it one of someone who has got it all together? One of someone who never experiences regret or shame? One of someone who doesn’t need anybody’s help?
Humility is such an important spiritual value to hold. By being open to those younger than us, we remove a layer of thinking that adults have everything under control which can sometimes create a barrier between young people who find themselves messing up and the adults in their lives they perceive to not understand what they’re going through. By showing that we need other people in our lives beyond ourselves, young people become more accepting to the idea that they need other people in their lives too.
Family is important. Whether that’s your biological one or the one you make from those you join in fellowship with. We all need people who love us, care for us and support us in the highs and the lows of this life.
Gratitude is also at the heart of the film. We can take our lives for granted. If all your possessions were to be taken from you, would you still end up with everything that you needed?