Wait, this is a kids' movie? "Puss in Boots: The Last Wish" Review
Fear not weary reader; no spoilers lie ahead!
Over winter break, I had the opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream of doing nothing but watching movies all day every day, and it was absolutely glorious. Over the span of 26 days, I was able to watch 40 movies — but only one stood out to me enough that I watched it twice. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” was released at the end of 2022 and by God, it was the best thing to come out of that whole year. Taking place years after the events of the SCU (“Shrek” Cinematic Universe), “The Last Wish” follows our favorite fearless hero, Puss in Boots, as he risks his ninth and final life racing a magical menagerie of opponents to find the one thing that will allow him to regain his lives and escape death.
Let’s start with one of the most obvious merits of this movie: the story. Going into the theater, I was expecting something akin to the first “Puss in Boots” — a silly kids movie, fun to watch, but not really that memorable. HOLY MACKEREL was I wrong! This movie centers around a race towards the Wishing Star, which can grant one wish to someone who uses its map to locate it. The list of our competitors starts with Puss, who wishes to gain more lives, as well as his companions Kitty Softpaws (who you may or may not remember from the first movie) and the most adorably ugly little creature to ever grace a movie screen, Perrito. They also race against renowned crime family Goldilocks and the Three Bears, who will wish for something to make everything Just Right, and corrupt pie magnate Jack Horner (assisted by his Baker’s Dozen), who will wish for all of the magic in the world to be his and his alone.
As the teams make their way towards the Star, they are forced to travel through obstacles conjured up by the map to make them see what’s really important. I won’t give away too much more plot, because I promised no spoilers (and I need EVERYONE to watch this movie), but I will say that the whole story is genuinely heartwarming, and it had me teared up in the movie theater — both times. All of the characters are ridiculously charming. I especially loved Goldi and the Bears; their family dynamic is so so fun and loving and quirky, and they’re just perfect to me. One last thing — Puss isn’t just after these lives for funsies. Due to his cavalier disregard for danger eight times over, he is now being pursued by Death himself. He has to stay moving and get to the Star, before Death can get to him. Portrayed by a huge wolf with beady, unblinking red eyes, and announced with a low, eerie whistle every time he’s near, Death is a genuinely unsettling character, and I’m not a child. I cannot fathom how scary this guy must be to any actual children who have seen this movie.
Next on the roster of Immaculate Items is the score. Composed by Heitor Pereira, this score is enchanting and charming all on its own. However, one of my absolute favorite parts of “The Last Wish” was how the soundtrack often synced up with the animation during big action sequences. I was basically foaming at the mouth during the first big fight, where an awakened giant swings a church bell around as a weapon. As he repeatedly swings and misses, huge hits in the music line up with the bell smashing into things as Puss easily dodges the attacks. It is so, so pleasing to witness, especially when paired with…
The animation style. This is the one thing that really had me absolutely raving the instant the lights came up in the theater. The best way that I can describe this art style is that it’s like if a storybook came to life. You know how “Into the Spiderverse” was all comic book-y? “The Last Wish” is like that, but with painterly storybook illustrations. It is so, so, so charming, and WAYYYY more pleasing to look at than the janky early 2000’s 3D animated Puss that we’re used to seeing. I really can’t give the animation high enough praise, you just have to see it for yourself.
In describing this movie to people, the word that I find myself using most often is “delightful,” because it really is delightful in every single way! Delightfully beautiful, delightfully heartwarming, delightfully funny, the list goes on. That being said, on my world-renowned Good Time-Bad Time scale, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” receives an emphatic “delightful, in every sense of the word.”