“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” Spellbinds Audiences

Janet Abrantes, Op-Ed Editor

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” the second installment to the “Puss in Boots” spin-off series and sixth installment to the Shrek franchise, released in theaters on Dec. 21, 2022. Despite falling below box office expectations, receiving $12.4 million in its opening weekend compared to the projected $25-30 million, the movie was met with widespread critical acclaim. Endearing, philosophical, and beautifully animated, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is a movie both children and adults will enjoy and think about long after the credits roll.

Opening with the titular Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) celebrating his victories over his many enemies, trouble strikes when an irritated giant attacks partygoers. Puss defeats the giant but is crushed by a bell shortly after. When he wakes up, a doctor informs Puss that he only has one more life left, as he has already used up eight of his nine lives. The movie follows Puss as he tries to avoid death by securing the Wishing Star and wishing for his lives back, with the help of his teammates Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek) and Perrito (Harvey Guillen). However, his journey is not without conflict as familiar fairytale characters like Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney) vie for the star and Wolf (Wagner Moura) hunts him down to take his last life.

Although this movie seems to be crowded with characters, none feel out of place or underdeveloped. Instead, the large cast adds to the depth of the film. Returning characters like Puss and Kitty receive more development as viewers learn about Puss’ fear of death and insecurity with his legendary status as well as Kitty’s struggle with loneliness. New characters like Perrito may initially seem like a typical comic relief role, but he quickly becomes the heart of the film with his bright outlook on life despite his tragic background and the insolent treatment he receives from others. 

The main villain, the Wolf, sends shivers down audience members’ spines with his signature whistling, daunting demeanor, and grim reaper-like persona. Driven by Puss’ arrogance, he plots to take the cat’s life and teach him he is not invincible. Following their first fight in which Puss loses, the dejected cat attempts to enter into retirement before finding out about the Wishing Star, believing he cannot defeat the Wolf. This unresolved conflict builds up tension as the audience both anticipates yet dreads their next encounter.

Although children’s animated films often deliver one-dimensional messages, “Puss in Boots” treats its audience intelligently, commenting on themes such as family, trust, loneliness, and mortality. At first, Puss wants to avoid death at all costs so he can live up to his reputation. However, as he befriends Perrito and reconnects with Kitty, he gains a new, more mature perspective on what it means to be alive. Puss realizes that multiple lives lived as a legend aren’t as good as one life spent with his found family.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is one of the best animated movies of 2022. Nearly perfect in its plot, animation style, and message, the children’s film touches the hearts of many with its profound tale about life.