Along time ago, a cute secondary character in a family franchise became more loved than the actual films central figure. The then much-loved Donkey - annoying animal side-kick who can talk! - was replaced by a cat with eyes that were enough to make the strongest heart melt. Now it is Puss, and not Donkey, that has his own spin-off movie...
DreamWorks have been on abit of a roll of late with their animated features, especially if you remember way back to their Road To Eldorado and Prince Of Egypt entries, which, although good, never reached audiences enough financially or critically. Their origin story of Puss will not sit in the same league as those previous forgotten others, but it won't live in the hearts and memories alongside the original Shrek entry or their How To Train Your Dragon modern family masterpiece.
The thing that made Puss so cute was his ability to realise his "cuteness" and play upon it in a totally obvious way - his hat-clutching, eye-widening stare - to great effect. It was all about his kitty-ness rather than his Mexican-ness that was brought to the fore and, pardon the pun, milked to scene-stealing comic affect! Shrek was an ogre with a strange Scottish accent but that was never dwelled upon, just his expected characteristics - the same goes for Donkey. However, here the whole Spanish heritage plays a huge role in the story, so much so that Puss starts to become more of a Mexican freedom fighter - not unlike Banderas' famous Zorro - rather than a small cat who has a dangerous knack with a sword plus the disadvantage of being easily distracted by moving shiny things!
The Spanish-themed dance-offs and peasant villagers are pleasant enough distractions but they're not laugh-out-loud memorable comic moments that you'd expect from the fighting, frisky feline. Instead, those moments are left to the likes of Humpty Dumped and the villainous Jack & Jill to conjure up which isn't always consistent enough. The fairytale elements are present and correct but they lack the perverse twist that the Shrek series developed so well. This means that the jokes that the adults could and should enjoy are not as prominent as they might prefer but there's still enough for the little ones to think they've discovered their new favorite film...until the next one comes along!
A fun enough first outing but for sheer family frolics Arthur Christmas would be a better bet this festive season.
UK release date: 09.12.12