The Magic and Mediocrity of Puss In Boots

Jamie Burton, Opinion Writer

I have not slept right for three weeks. The enigma of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” has consumed me. It was supposed to be a throw-away sequel to a dying franchise; instead, it has become one of the strangest cinematic phenomena of the new decade, selling out theaters and scoring a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Yet, something else was afoot. As I swallowed my journalistic pride and curiously sat with fellow movie-goers for an hour-and-a-half to watch this supposed masterpiece, the truth was slowly revealed. Hiding in plain sight: the most promising, mediocre movie you have ever seen.

Watching “Puss in Boots 2” is like watching an elementary school child paint a beautiful finger portrait. Such accidental brilliance. 

We expect nothing out of the child, but for a moment, just a small moment, the child has captured our hearts, made us believe that maybe the beautiful portrait was no accident at all, that maybe this child, with such inexplicable tiny wisdom, knew exactly what they were doing all along. But as the child proceeds to dump an entire bucket of red paint over the canvas, for they know not what else to do, you remember that the child is just a child, and the portrait is just an elementary-school art project.

This realization is heartbreaking because in truth, the first 25 minutes of “Puss in Boots 2” is pure euphoria. It is simply flawless. The Spanish-Western-style action is punchy, the soundtrack and visuals are off the charts, and subtle twists in the plot electrify the story to keep things fresh. So you can imagine my confusion when, by the climax of the film, instead of enjoying a grand payoff of emotion, I sat there unfulfilled. 

What started as an exciting Spanish-Western thriller slowly dissolved into a generic, and I mean generic, fairytale movie along the way. Some will argue that since “Puss in Boots” is from the “Shrek” world, a famously fairytale-run society, fairytale elements were inevitable in the new “Shrek” spin-off. I would completely agree; however, in “Puss in Boots 2,” a complete blanketing of fairytale elements washes away any unique charm from the start of the movie, dumping red paint all over an already complete canvas.

In the end, the sleepless nights will not stop. The sullied canvas that is “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” will continue to bear the stain of near-achievement, while dissatisfied audience members like myself will continue to ponder what could have been. Here I will lie, tonight, tomorrow night, and the night after that, picking up the broken pieces of my own naive fairytale, reminiscing about a dream once more.