Plot: “When Puss in Boots discovers that his passion for adventure has taken its toll and he has burned through eight of his nine lives, he launches an epic journey to restore them by finding the mythical Last Wish.” -IMDB
Review: I’ll be honest with you. I had no intention of ever watching Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. Then it secured a Best Animated Feature at the 2023 Academy Awards. Every year, I do my best to watch every single nominated film, so I knew I would cross paths with this film.
Watching the trailer, nothing beyond the beautiful animation style impressed me. I was sure I would witness another desperate sequel grabbing at any available cash that the studio could wring out of the Shrek franchise.
Friends, I am here happily to report that I was wrong. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a beautiful meditation on life, death, and legacy. It has profound things to say about friendship, belonging, and measuring a life well lived; something I never expected from a franchise that gave us a talking donkey and gum drop buttons. Simply put, the humor and honesty of this film mesmerized me.
Puss (Antonio Banderas) has tested fate more times than he can bother to count. When confronted with the reality that he really should have been counting, Puss does what would come naturally for any of us facing death. He retires from the limelight to wallow in relative safety, relishing his one remaining life.
Of course, legends can never stay in the shadows for long. At his “retirement community” for cats, Puss meets Perrito (Harvey Guillen), a confused dog desperately in need of a friend, but beaming with eternal optimism. He also crosses paths with Goldilocks (Florence Pugh) and the Three Bears who want to use Puss to track down the Wishing Star. Puss, who faked his own death before arriving at the community, tricks the Goldilocks’ crew. Thinking he’s dead, they pursue another course, but learning of the Wishing Star gives Puss an idea. If he can reach the star before the others, then eternal, or at the very least, a longer life could be his.
This franchise has always brilliantly used well known and loved fairy tales as standing characters and plot lines, but some of their best work might appear in this film. Weaving together stories of death, Goldilocks, Big Jack Horner, and much more was a wildly creative move to add another layer of humor and heart to this film.
Getting to the Wishing Star will be an arduous journey. To do so, Puss must steal a map from Big Jack Horner (John Mulaney) who is a collector of magical artifacts. But Puss isn’t alone in his quest. His ex-fiancée, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), has her own ambitions. Again, another layer of intrigue, and countless opportunities for humor and heart.
Barely escaping the violent reach of Big Jack Horner, Puss and Kitty call a truce and agree to work together. With Perrito in tow, they head for the dangers of the Dark Forest to chase down the Wishing Star, but Big Jack and Goldilocks are hot on their heels. This chase sets up a final showdown that was beautiful to watch unfold.
In those final scenes (which I won’t spoil), we learn life is meant to be shared and our mortality is nothing to be feared. In fact, the finite nature of life makes living special.
This film really had no business being this good. It isn’t my favorite animated release of the year, but it is a top competitor for sure and worthy of your attention.
Be good to each other,
Visit Nathan at