We remember watching “Puss in Boots” in the theaters when the first movie came out in 2011. We were probably tired due to the excessive holiday homework, a sadistic practice that doesn’t allow children to enjoy their off-time; hence, we fell asleep in the middle of watching the movie. Thankfully, our mother did not notice, or our ears would have been twisted for wasting the money spent on tickets that we had begged her to get in the first place. Either way, streaming platforms were not as ubiquitous back then, and we were technologically challenged, so we could not find a way to watch the movie. Now, almost 11 years later, we get another chance to watch “Puss in Boots.” We are still overworked, but we loaded up on caffeine and spent the runtime of two hours awed at the smoothly integrated fairytale elements from across different stories.
In 2023, taking a dig at fairytales within their adaptations is not new anymore. But it works as long as it is clever, which is the case with this particular movie. Puss is not as rogueish as we would have liked him to be. Considering our childhood fiasco, we are clearly referencing the original fairytale and not the previous movie, of course. The events of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” happen sometime after Mike Mitchell’s 2010 animated- comedy “Shrek Forever After.” Though the film is a spinoff of the “Shrek” franchise, the movie has enough substance and impact to make its distinctive presence felt. After “Del Toro’s Pinocchio,” it is a delight to witness another masterpiece in such quick succession. The movie was a beautiful journey, so let’s get into the storyline without further delay.
Puss’ Last Life
‘Puss in Boots’ is living his life being as fabulous as ever with a new heist where he has stolen the Governor’s belongings and distributed them amongst the villagers. But there is a break in the celebrations when the Governor comes back and orders his men to attack the cat. In the ensuing fight, the town giant is woken up, and the trouble increases for our legendary hero. He defeats the giant with his trademark style and suaveness, but just when he believes that he has won, an accident lands him in the hospital. Turns out, Puss had died and come back to life. It has happened before, as cats have nine lives. However, what is alarming is that this is now Puss’ last life after he recklessly lived and died with his eight others. He cannot accept the consequences of this revelation when his barber/ doctor tells him that. However, later that night, as he is enjoying a cup of the bar’s heaviest cream, he runs into who he believes is a bounty hunter. Puss wouldn’t have thought about it twice, but this wolf was far more powerful than him, and he could not afford reckless courage anymore. It is probably the first time that Puss feels fear, and he cannot help but escape. Following the advice of his barber/ doctor, he goes to the house of Mama Luna, a “cat fancier,” or as a layman would call her, a “cat lady.” He must spend the rest of his days as a lap cat if he intends to stay alive. Therefore, with his hand forced by fear, he buries his boots and cape and resorts to living with the woman as an ordinary cat. It is not an easy life, one devoid of adventure, but his fear is clearly winning. Over time, he makes acquaintance with one of the cats in the house, who is actually a dog in disguise. Let us call him Perrito for the rest of the article. It means “puppy” in Spanish, and that is what Puss called him before the puppy ended up choosing it as a permanent name for himself.
Anyway, we suppose we all remember the story of ‘Goldilocks and the three bears,’ where a young girl finds herself in the home of the bears and looks for a bed and some porridge that is ‘just right.’ In the movie, Goldilocks, aka Goldi, and the three bears, fancy themselves a crime syndicate and have come to Mama Luna’s house in search of the legendary Puss in Boots, but they are unable to identify him. The youngest bear, named Baby, smells the buried boots, and they deduce that Puss is dead. But overhearing their conversation alerts Puss to the fact that a map is being delivered to Jack Horner, which leads to the Wishing Star. Hearing this, he sees a chance for him to return to his old life by wishing for his life back. With the help of Perrito, he digs up his boots and cape and sets off to find the map, leaving the puppy behind.
The Quest For The Wishing Star
Now, Jack Horner’s character reeks of some good old-school fat phobia by showing him as being greedy, lazy, and selfish, but it is a conversation we are too tired to have. Anyway, this character, who is derived from an old nursery rhyme, is pure evil and a hoarder of magical items. Horner uses the magical “Midas Touch” to turn one of the thieves into gold after he gets the map from them. While this is happening, Puss comes close to nicking the map but is prevented from doing so by Kitty Softpaws. We remember her as his ex-girlfriend from the 2011 movie. At the same time, Goldi and the three bears land up there as well. There is a whole fight and a chase where Puss, Kitty, and Perrito escape with the map, with the others hot on their heels. Puss gets another glimpse of the bounty hunter wolf, and he is scared. They reach the forest and make their way in. While each of them sees a different path on the map, it is Perrito whose way seems to be the easiest; therefore, they decide to let him hold it. There is a bit here about who has the more innocent-looking eyes, and we are glad that it was acknowledged that cats do it better. They are a menace, but they do it better.
We would like to point out the precision and creativity with which Joel Crawford has made these characters so relatable. Perrito could have been just another cute little character who gave comedic relief to the audience, and they would have embraced it gladly, but Tommy Swerdlow and Tom Wheeler made sure that each character added some value to the narrative. Perrito’s innocence and positivity is in stark contrast to the cats’ suspicious outlook on things. It is not just a way to highlight the stereotypical differences between cats and dogs but a way to convey that life is not always the battle we think it is. There are other ways of getting ahead in life than fighting everything in our path. It is possible to coexist and enjoy the journey rather than being in a defensive mode all the time.
The first obstacle in their path is the “pocket full of posies.” While Puss and Kitty are ready to fight them, it is Perrito who figures out that they just need to be gentle, and the flowers will let them pass. While they are doing that, the others are catching up. Goldi and her family are pushed aside by Jack and his baker’s dozen. He uses his bottomless bag full of magical items to combat the field, and it looks like he is having success with it. Well, all the parties involved reach a place where they fight with each other for the map. The bear family ends up with it; Puss is scared and takes flight, and Kitty ends up alone. When calming down Puss, Perrito comes to know the history between him and Kitty. Puss had left her at the altar, and he felt guilty about it to this day. Kitty overhears the conversation but pretends not to. They set off again to retrieve the map. Meanwhile, Goldi and her family find their old cottage in the forest, and they reminisce about how they first met. True to the fairytale, Goldilocks had found herself in the home of the three bears, probably looking for a soft bed and some warm food. Mama bear says that it was the moment when their family had become complete, or to put it in a better way, it had become ‘just right.’ The writers of this movie should be given a bonus, especially for the way they have written the story arc of Goldilocks and the three bears. The jokes with the term ‘just right’ and the porridge metaphors blend so seamlessly with the character’s sense of belonging and what it means to be a family. The moment in the cottage was especially beautiful, and we can see some of the dilemma on Goldi’s face easing up.
However, it doesn’t last very long as the cats nick the map again. Meanwhile, Kitty admits to Puss that she did not show up to the wedding either because she believed that Puss’ greatest love was himself, and she couldn’t get in the way of that. This reveals another facet of Puss’ personality to us. As we remember from the beginning of the movie, Puss did not have anyone he could go to when the doctor advised him to take it easy in his last life. There is a great difference between having an adventurous life and living for adventure. The latter means that one has to often walk alone, which is what Puss had done. In all of his previous 8 lives, it had been about his courage, his heroic feats, and his arrogance in his invincibility. It was only when confronted with mortality that he was forced to consider what he might have missed out on and what really mattered to him. The time he was spending with Kitty and Perrito was teaching him to find happiness in walking with others rather than just seeking the empty thrill of running alone.
While this was happening, Jack had lost all of his crew and his ‘Ethical Bug.’ He is just left with his bag and a single person by his side, though he isn’t regretful about it. We have a feeling that Jack is a representation of what ‘pure capitalism’ looks like. He has the greedy goal of owning all the magic in the world for no other reason than to be at the top of a hierarchy. To achieve his goal, he doesn’t care if the less privileged, like his employees, are lost or at a disadvantage because, in his larger scheme of things, they don’t matter. This ideology is reflective of most companies in present times, and it is probably our recognition of what the character represents that makes us hate him so much.
Coming back to the bears, after stealing the map, in the ensuing scuffle, they hold Perrito hostage while Puss is stuck in the cave of lost souls. He asks Kitty to get their friend while he tries to find a way out. In the cave, Puss finds that the lost souls are all from his previous lives. But the horror that awaits him is the wolf. Puss finally understands that it is death that has been chasing him. While he manages to escape the cave, he makes a run for the star. Kitty, who has managed to rescue Perrito, finds this behavior suspicious and thinks that they are being betrayed by Puss. Also, Goldilocks admits that she wants the star to track down her real family. The Bears are upset, but they promise to help her if that’s what she really wants.
‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Ending Explained: Does Puss Get His Wish?
When Puss reaches the star, Kitty confronts him about being selfish and tells him that all she wanted was to be able to trust someone. She had felt that Puss could be that person. But now, she asks him to keep the wish. Puss admits his circumstances, but before he can tell her more, the others arrive at the scene. It is pure havoc, with the map changing hands constantly. However, one person gets their wish without the map or the star. When Goldi has to make a choice between the map and the bears, she chooses the latter, which means that she finally got the family that she had so desperately craved all along. Jack ends up in the bag, and the map is safely in Puss’ hands. As he is thinking about his wish, he is confronted by death once again. But this time, Puss has realized something. Throughout his life, his bravery had come from a belief in his invincibility, which meant that he had never felt accountable to himself or to anybody else. But having just one life had made him vulnerable, which had allowed him to care for others and be cared for in return. That had given him happiness that none of his adventures had, and that became the source of his courage. He battles death and admits that while he may not be able to defeat him, he will continue to fight for his life. Finding that he no longer needs to teach humility to an “arrogant legend,” death bows out and advises Puss to just live his life. It could be considered a victory, except that Jack has eaten the magic snacks and stepped out of the bag, bigger and stronger than ever. He is about to wish for all the magic in the world when the others, with some trickery and courage, destroy the map. While they escape, Jack plunges to his death.
In the ending, we see Puss, Kitty, and Perrito sail into the sunset on the Governor’s stolen boat, looking for new adventures. They call themselves “Team Friendship,” a name Perrito loves but the cats hate. A small win for the dog lovers here. “Team Friendship” is going away to a land “Far Far Away,” which is a direct reference to the “Shrek” franchise. This could mean the promise of a new Shrek movie or another brilliant spinoff. We will keep our eyes open for that.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’?
There is really nothing negative to be said about “Puss in Boots.” The script is tight, and it doesn’t try to do too much, giving it enough room to be clever. Perrito is really the best part of the film, and the writers did an excellent job of highlighting the comedic differences between cats and dogs. Animated movies are generally an excellent medium for capturing some of the more complex human concepts, and “Puss in Boots” manages to masterfully showcase the journey of finding courage through a person’s vulnerability.
An interesting comparison that came to us was that “The Last Wish” personified death in a manner similar to Lewis Caroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Death is inevitable, but it is important to embrace life when we get the chance. There are times when we all take things for granted and forget that nothing in this life is permanent. We forget that we are all mortals who will one day fade in the sands of time. Puss needed to learn to love someone other than himself, and Goldilocks needed to accept that the love and acceptance she had been seeking was right in front of her. All she needed to do was accept it. As for Jack Horner, there was no hope for him, and he had to go, along with everything he represented. “Puss in Boots” wraps these grim themes in innumerable moments of laughter. We are glad we did not fall asleep during it. That is enough incentive for us to dig up the 2011 movie and watch it. If this is anything to go by, that is going to be just as endearing.