REVIEW: Puss in Boots

7 03 2012

We’re all allowed some major guilty pleasures, aren’t we?

So sorry that I’m not sorry about loving “Puss in Boots.”  I’m well aware that it’s a shadow of DreamWorks Animation’s heyday of “Shrek” and “Shrek 2” (which introduced the titular character).  And it’s still no Pixar.  But the day that there’s something wrong with having a good laugh at clever wordplay and situations is a day I don’t want to see.

I was busting a gut throughout the movie, and it wasn’t even in spite of myself.  It’s delirious fun through and through, reclaiming a shrewd wit that seems to have eluded this studio’s movies for the past few years.  I’ll admit that I had my doubts about a spin-off, even if it was based on one of my favorite “Shrek” characters.  Yet once the movie began, all my doubts were put at bay and I was enjoying the movie like I was five years old again.

Antonio Banderas’ thick Spanish accent once again brings that sucker punch of spirit to the character of Puss in Boots, no longer a marginalized sideshow (can anyone say Mike Myers’ Shrek was their favorite character in the series?) but headlining a prequel to the action.  I must say, he makes a good case that DreamWorks should have spent ten years and four movies focused on him.  Trotting from pun to pun and one twisted-off fairy tale character to the next, he brings a laugh and a wide-faced grin with him wherever he goes.

Whether it’s romancing Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a perfect romantic foil, through dance battles or attempting to decode the mysterious motivations of Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis in some truly inspired vocal casting), his adventures are a blast as he pursues the golden eggs at the top of Jack’s magic beanstalk.  The story never feels like something we’ve seen before, a remarkable feat for a franchise entry.  “Puss in Boots” really is just rollicking good fun for some reason.  I could spend more time trying to figure out what exactly that reason is, but I’d rather just let its silliness be and accept the mystery.  B+ 

Random Factoid #303

27 05 2010

What’s in a name?  (And no, the answer is not “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” all you Shakespearean scholars.)

I was browsing the web as usual and reading some interesting articles.  One particularly grabbed me from the New York Times website, an article by Brooks Barnes called “Invasion of the Big, Scary, Long Film Titles.”  Here are some interesting excerpts:

Pity the high school students whose summer jobs involve changing movie theater marquees. Hollywood has come down with a serious case of title elongation. That is, if you can figure out the title at all.

Consider the latest “Shrek” movie, which DreamWorks Animation and Paramount Pictures released on Friday. Just what is its title, anyway?  “Shrek Forever After.” But billboards and newspaper ads seem to use another name: “Shrek: The Final Chapter.” More than a few theaters have just listed it as “Shrek 4,” perhaps running low on patience, or just colons … add in simultaneous 3-D offerings, and splice that into subcategories — “Shrek Forever After 3-D,” “Shrek Forever After: An Imax 3-D Experience” — and the listings become even more confusing.

Elaborate titles can bring danger. “The more a title describes the story, the less effective it generally is,” said Dennis Rice, a marketing consultant who has held top positions at Miramax, United Artists and Disney. “You want people to know what they’re getting. But you also want to leave them wanting to learn more.”

And in a very practical sense, wordy titles take up a lot of time in a 15-second television ad and a lot of space on a poster … none of these titles are selected without debate by studio executives and, in some cases, they are determined by focus group testing. With sequels, the strategy is generally to avoid adding a numeral, and to come up with a subtitle that makes the movie seem less of a rehash and more worthy of standing on its own … in some instances, long titles result from an eagerness of studios to piggyback on a brand that already has currency in the marketplace.

I can’t stand long titles, and if a movie has a long title, I try to find a way around saying the whole thing.  “Shrek Forever After” is “Shrek 4” in my jargon.  “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is just plain old “Prince of Persia” to me.  And you won’t ever catch me even writing the unwieldy post-colon addition to “Precious.”

Random Factoid #296

20 05 2010

I guess I can stop with these veiled references to the movie screening I went to on Saturday morning.  It was for “Shrek Forever After,” if you hadn’t already figured that out.

Before the screening, I remembered something lying in the bottom of the costume chest at my house.  There were Shrek ears (similar to the ones in the picture) that can be worn like a headband.  They are incredibly festive, and I have whipped them out every once in a while since 2001.  Yes, I have kept these ears since the release of the first “Shrek” movie.

I wore them to the screening, and no one noticed.  I was very disappointed.

(To be fair, they gave out some new pairs as prizes.  So I can only hope that was one of the main reasons.)

REVIEW: Shrek Forever After

20 05 2010

DreamWorks really struck it big with the “Shrek” franchise.  The original won the first Academy Award for Best Animated Film.  The sequel was the third highest grossing movie of the decade.  Then, out of nowhere, the magic makers forgot what made their previous two installments so successful and churned out a third installment void of joy, laughter, and fun.  I prayed that “Shrek Forever After,” the supposed final entry in the series, would provide closure while still providing the entertainment of the first films.

My wish was their command.  This “Shrek” is a jubilant celebration of the series that will serve as a perfect bookend of the series.  It will have you howling from beginning to end, surpassing the total laugh count of “Shrek the Third” in mere minutes.  Everything you love about “Shrek” is present here – all the adult humor, pop culture references, send-ups of your favorite fairy tales, and the characters we’ve come to adore.

But at the same time, it doesn’t rely on your lingering nostalgia from 2001 and 2004.  “Shrek Forever After” has plenty to give us that is new and exciting, from the introduction of the maniacal Rumpelstiltskin to an engaging plotline that twists Frank Capra.

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Factoid #114

19 11 2009

Today’s factoid will again be building off the revelation of my former days of cutting the movie ads out of the newspaper and plastering them across my wall.

If a studio indulged me with several full-page color ads, I often devoted an entire door to a certain movie.  I remember having “Shrek 2” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” doors in the summer of 2004.  The “Shrek” door was even complete with a themed 12-month calendar that was thrown in the Houston Chronicle on New Year’s Day.

Random Factoid #40

6 09 2009

I go through huge spurts of buying movies.  If you were to come take a look at my film library, you will see lots of movies from certain years and hardly any from others.

Starting a blog has spurred a new one.

My first big one was in 2001, when I started getting receiving money for birthday presents.  For my 9th birthday that year, I had also gotten a DVD player.  Naturally, I used all the money to buy DVDs.  If anyone likes kids movies from 2001 (other than “Shrek” and “Monsters, Inc,” which are classics), come on over.

I had another one in 2003, and I unfortunately report that I do not know the cause.  My AP U.S. History analysis skills are failing me when looking at my own life!

Then there was a lull where I didn’t buy many DVDs for a long time, only buying the movies that were really special.  But now I’m filling in the gaps and picking up where I left off.