Original review featured on the Doha Film Institute website.

Stars: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis
Genre: Adventure, animation and comedy.

A deceptively cute-looking ginger cat has pawed his way back on to the big screen.

‘Cat in Boots’, by the directors of ‘Shrek the Third’, is the first feature-length character spinoff and follows the outlawed Puss (voiced by Antonio Banderas) on a tumultuous journey to reunite with his mother. Say it with me now, ‘Awww’.

He’s aiming to steal the magic beans of Jack and Jill (voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris), which will lead him to a castle perched in the sky and ultimately to a golden egg-laying goose.

In his quest, we discover Jack and Jill are a gigantic married couple obsessed with the idea of parenting a child. No Hollywood animation is complete without a hint of romance and so Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek) doubles up as Puss’ competitor and mysterious, charming and Catwoman-esque love interest. She’s not only a gifted thief, but also a daring performer who manages to drag him into a dance-off in a bar tailored for cats, and stocked barrels of milk. In this epic showdown , the two felines, with the help of talented CGI specialists, display masterful choreography in what could well be the film’s most exhilarating scene.

References to other childhood tales and nursery rhymes are abundant and always include hidden nuances to maintain the attention of the adults in the audience. Take Humpty Alexander Dumpty for example, (voiced by Zach Galifianakis) has been cast as brainy egg and Puss’ former friend.

The trio makes a good team. Oval-shaped Humpty needs the dexterous cats’ helping paws with every move; the poor egg can’t stand on his feet. Humpty’s got the brains, Kitty’s got the looks and Puss has the ability to purr his way in and out of any situation. Scenes of the felines’ martial arts skills, one can only imagine, must have needed a visual mastermind during production.

There are unexpected twists, some more engaging than others, but as long as the flamboyant Puss is around, with his deep, distinct Latin voice, then fun is guaranteed. Banderas, a star guest at this year’s Doha Tribeca Film Festival, poked fun at his role while speaking to an audience in Qatar during the event. He claimed he only learnt English in his thirties and is now being paid for the use of his vocal chords.

Children will enjoy the action and game of chase between Puss and Kitty, often played out in wrestling matches on moonlit rooftops. The film also manages to highlight at least one animal rights issue, as it hints at the trauma and repercussions of declawing cats. Welcome and witty undertones will likely make the weekend trip to the cinema more enjoyable for parents. At least one writer who worked on the final film of the Shrek trilogy, according to IMBD, Jon Zack, stayed on board to pen ‘Cat in Boots’. The 90-minute adventure is now playing in Doha. It’s a modern day take on Robin Hood, a film guaranteed to make you laugh out loud more than once, and, if you happen to have a child and a cat, good luck with finding paw-shaped boots afterwards.

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