This review has spoilers ahead!
As the Shrek Cinematic Universe continues to expand, Puss and Boots: The Last Wish was released on December 21, 2022. This film is based on the fairytale character, Puss in Boots who first joined the franchise in Shrek 2 (2004) and is the sequel to his spin-off film Puss in Boots (2011).
When I found out through TikTok and my Twitter timeline that Puss and Boots: The Last Wish was being praised as the best animated film of the year, I had to see for myself. Not only was the Internet obsessed, but the film received a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes beating the highly anticipated film Avatar: The Way of Water with only a 77%. While I am a fan of children’s and animated films, I was surprised to hear that another sequel was so highly acclaimed. It’s been a trend in Hollywood to create sequels to grow existing franchises and I have observed the decline in overall quality of films in the process, especially in content for children. Despite having a hard time believing the reviews as no more than a joke, I was pleasantly surprised by how well done and entertaining the film was.
The film follows Puss and Boots when he realizes his adventures may be coming to an end as he has blown through eight out of his nine lives. On his ninth and final life, Puss sets out for one final journey to find the magical Wishing Star for the last wish to restore his lives. With the help of a magical map, ex lover Kitty Softpaws, and new doggie “friend” Perrito, Puss makes his way to the star, but not without struggle. Goldilocks and her Bear Family and “Big” Jack Horner are also on quests for the star, while Puss is being followed by a chilling hooded wolf who wants to kill him. As Puss and his friends travel, he self reflects on his eight lives, ego, deals with anxiety for the first time, and faces his fears.
This film tackles serious and in depth concepts, toying with death quite a bit as Puss must come to terms that his life may be coming to an end. It is later revealed that the wolf following him is Death and is the first time Puss has experienced fear. During one scene, Puss has a panic attack after being chased by death and Perrito is used as a therapy dog. This scene was beautifully done, encapsulating the feeling of a panic attack through audio and video distortion. Towards the finale, Puss faces death head on and “looks death in the eye” until he eventually leaves, warning him that his time will come soon enough, though this no longer scares him. The film also has a strong message about cherishing life and putting your ego aside, as Puss has often let his legendary status get in the way of his relationships and friendships. Throughout the film he rebuilds his relationship with his old lover, Kitty Softpaws, while also reluctantly befriends the over excited, Perrito. Additionally, the film was helmed by Bob Persichetti who was the head of story and one of the directors of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Because of this, the film is full of stunning animation that jumps off the screen like an illustration. The overall message of this film is emotional, urging us to cherish the people around us as we only have one life and death is all around us.
Now, while this may be a kids movie, it is NOT for everyone. This film was surprisingly scary, with Death’s glowing red eyes and frightening speeches about killing Puss in Boots. I would recommend this film for ages 9 and up, but use caution if your child gets scared easily. The film has dark and intense scenes that even scared me at times…I know I’m 22 but it was still spooky okay! This is a great movie for the family though and will definitely draw some laughs (and tears). For parents and grandparents, this film will really make you think about your life and how much time you have left.
In conclusion, cherish the things you love in this life and get to the theaters to see Puss in Boots: The Last Wish!