Photo by: Brenden Cowan
Spoiler warning: contains spoilers for Puss In Boots: The Last Wish.
If you had told me a year ago that the Puss in Boots sequel would be one of the best animated films of 2022 I would not have believed you, but here we are.
The Last Wish follows Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) as he begins his ninth and final life. No longer having lives to throw away, he loses the confidence he had as an adventurer, only coming out of retirement to try to claim the Wishing Star and regain his lost lives.
While the ending to this plot is fairly predictable — nearly every wish-based story revolves around the fact that the wish is not necessary for the protagonist to achieve their goals — the route the movie takes to get there is fun and keeps the plot engaging. It also helps that Puss’ character arc is pretty uncommon in children’s films, especially for a protagonist. The Last Wish does a good job of making it believable while also not too complicated so younger viewers can follow along.
Additionally, the simple plot works better than expected thanks to the film’s strong characters. Puss starts as a self-absorbed thrill-seeker, and while his latest brush with death has humbled him, he maintains enough bravado to prevent him from feeling too mopey.
Puss is followed by Perrito (Harvey Guillén), a stray puppy with dreams of becoming a therapy dog, who offsets Puss’ sly charm with a straightforward optimism. Initially his non-stop positivity is a little corny, but Perrito’s earnestness provides a welcome counterbalance to Puss’ distrustful nature. They are later joined by Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), who provides a look into Puss’ past both through their shared history and her similarities to Puss’ more confident self.
Being a spin-off of the Shrek franchise, The Last Wish has big boots to fill in terms of comedy. It fills them quite comfortably though, delivering on Shrek’s brand of adult-oriented PG-comedy. Puss and the other characters all have their moments, but surprisingly Perrito is consistently the funniest, especially when he repeats rude things he’s heard thinking they’re nice.
One thing that stood out when the movie was first revealed was the animation. The characters are more stylized and less “realistic” than the previous Puss in Boots movie — this is most noticeable when comparing Puss’ fur between the two films — and the fight scenes have a lower frame rate akin to Sony Animation’s Into the Spider-Verse. Both of these changes make the movie look great, making it feel more like a storybook illustration, though the transition in animation between the fight scenes and the regular scenes can be a little jarring at first.
Speaking of the fight scenes, the movie has a lot of fun action to see. Puss’ short stature and the various magical setpieces combine to fill these fights with innovative stunts. Some stunts, such as Puss’ cartwheel spin, are taken from the first movie, though with the new animation style they look much better now than they did in 2011.
Though the plot ends predictably, The Last Wish manages to make the journey to that ending lively and entertaining. It’s a charming animated adventure, and is the best thing to come out of the Shrek franchise since Shrek 2.