two animated cats and a dog talk against a bight flower-filled background
Courtesy Dreamworks Animation

Is it any wonder anymore that kids’ films often include more mature themes that resonate with parents? Not really. Pixar has set the standard for years, and others have followed the money. Still, it’s noteworthy how Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is all about coming to terms with the fact that your life must eventually end, seeing how this franchise owes its existence to making fun of our most beloved fairy-tale traditions.

More than ten years after his last feature, Puss is back and still voiced by Antonio Banderas, who sounds like he’s having way too much fun playing a character he’s brought to animated life for nearly 20 years. Puss has brought the fiesta as usual, sticking his whiskers in a local governor’s digs and fighting a sleeping giant he happened to bring to life in the process.

The adventure goes awry when Puss dies, and he’s forced to realize that years of careless heroics have left him with one life left, and Death (Wagner Moura) is licking his chops in anticipation of claiming him for his own. But Puss sees a chance to reclaim the legend he’s built his life on by finding the mythical Wishing Star. 

Along for the quest is an adorable comic-relief dog Perrito (Harvey Guillén), Puss’s old frenemy Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), new obstacles in Goldi (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears Crime Family, and the irredeemable Jack Horner (John Mulaney), who’s looking to steal the world’s magic for himself.

Pick your fairy tale and you’ll find a reference, with astonishingly fun, creative action sequences in an animation style that owes more to anime than CGI. If things are resolved a bit too quickly and predictably, the sheer charm of the journey and the stellar voice cast make it nearly unnoticeable. PG, 100 min.

Wide release in theaters