PUSS IN BOOTS: THE LAST WISH
By: Adam Freed
Somewhere in the yawning gulf between childhood and the adult experience, there lies an intersection at which the desire to remain a child was abandoned and the promise of adulthood became all too realistic to fantasize about. It is here at this crossroads that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish plants its flag. In one direction it is a kids movie about blade wielding, swashbuckling, Spanish cats. In the other, an adult retrospective about taking ownership over past mistakes and cultivating an appreciation for what life remains in all of us.
Directors Joel Crawford & Januel Mercado seem to strike a knowing balance that will excite young audiences in a stunning fairy tale world while simultaneously holding a mirror into which their grown counterparts must stare. Through their feline hero and heroine Crawford & Mercado challenge audiences to consider what role they’ve played in the pursuit of lives well lived. Although a Jimmy Stewart inspired Jiminy Cricket character is hilariously on the nose in this attempt, the message lands with ease.
The primary antagonist, as there are several, is death itself, voiced with an element of horrific perfection by Wagner Moura. Death in the shape of the big bad wolf seems inevitable, a reminder that despite his fear, forces Puss in Boots to appreciate life rather than to attempt to cheat death.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is one of the more visually striking animated movies released in years, but what sets it apart from the throng of mediocrity that has haunted its genre competitors, is the fact that it embraces the joy of childhood storytelling while perfecting the need for adult retrospection. This film fervently reminds that whether it be nine lives or just one, reaching fulfillment is not possible without casting aside hubris in favor of humility. A lesson well learned early in life, yet valuable at any age.