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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Puss in Boots

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


The legendary hero, voice by Antonio Banderas, in a scene from the movie "Puss In Boots."
An exceptionally intelligent and energetic script that includes a moral lesson propels "Puss in Boots" (DreamWorks), a 3-D animated children's feature that provides the back story of the fairy tale character as portrayed in the "Shrek" films.

Without being condescending and without adding snarky in-jokes likely to fly over the little ones' heads, director Chris Miller and screenwriter Tom Wheeler combine imagery from fairy tales with a plot that makes Puss (voice of Antonio Banderas) a mischievous bandit.

As such, this version of Puss is a faint echo of Zorro, the fictional Mexican hero—originated by writer Johnston McCulley -- who defends the poor and downtrodden.

Based on a story by Wheeler, Brian Lynch and Will Davies, this adventure tale has Puss, his romantic interest Kitty Softpaws (voice of Salma Hayek) and Humpty Dumpty (voice of Zach Galifianakis), Puss' childhood friend from their time together in an orphanage, on the hunt for the magic beans of Jack and the Beanstalk.

Only said beans aren't in the possession of that Jack, but rather are greedily hoarded by a swarthy bumpkin couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Jill (voices of Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris).

Jack and Jill, who keep pigs, haven't planted the beans yet, and usually argue over the idea of having a child. "I could raise it like it was a squirrel," Jack explains.

Grabbing the golden eggs at the top of the beanstalk has been Humpty's quest since childhood; he views success in this pursuit as compensation for never fitting in anywhere. As he hatches his plot, he pledges the young Puss to secrecy, explaining, "The first rule of Bean Club is—you never talk about Bean Club!"

Humpty also is embittered from his time in jail after one of his earlier capers with Puss went wrong, and the cat managed to escape.

Puss has to balance loyalty to his friend with the knowledge of what's right, especially after they find the golden eggs and have to deal, in consequence, with one very angry goose. So there's a valuable theme here about the perils of greed and dishonesty.

Parents of young children should know in advance, however, that one of the principal characters dies.

Although sweetly presented, this demise harkens back to an era of cinema when characters who committed the worst sins were compelled to meet untimely—and therefore atoning—ends. In that sense, while potentially upsetting to tots, such a turn of events gives this latest, thoroughly fresh, spin on French author Charles Perrault's centuries-old Puss character yet another classic dimension.

The film contains intense action sequences. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I—general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Gregory the Great: Coming events cast their shadows before: Gregory was the prefect of Rome before he was 30. After five years in office he resigned, founded six monasteries on his Sicilian estate and became a Benedictine monk in his own home at Rome. 
<p>Ordained a priest, he became one of the pope's seven deacons, and also served six years in the East as papal representative in Constantinople. He was recalled to become abbot, and at the age of 50 was elected pope by the clergy and people of Rome. </p><p>He was direct and firm. He removed unworthy priests from office, forbade taking money for many services, emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and the victims of plague and famine. He was very concerned about the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his own monastery. He is known for his reform of the liturgy, for strengthening respect for doctrine. Whether he was largely responsible for the revision of "Gregorian" chant is disputed. </p><p>Gregory lived in a time of perpetual strife with invading Lombards and difficult relations with the East. When Rome itself was under attack, he interviewed the Lombard king. </p><p>An Anglican historian has written: "It is impossible to conceive what would have been the confusion, the lawlessness, the chaotic state of the Middle Ages without the medieval papacy; and of the medieval papacy, the real father is Gregory the Great." </p><p>His book, <i>Pastoral Care</i>, on the duties and qualities of a bishop, was read for centuries after his death. He described bishops mainly as physicians whose main duties were preaching and the enforcement of discipline. In his own down-to-earth preaching, Gregory was skilled at applying the daily gospel to the needs of his listeners. Called "the Great," Gregory has been given a place with Augustine (August 28), Ambrose (December 7) and Jerome (September 30)as one of the four key doctors of the Western Church.</p> American Catholic Blog Loving trust and total surrender made Our Lady say yes to the message of the angel, and cheerfulness made her run in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. So much in our lives, too, is saying yes to Jesus, and running haste to serve him in the poorest of the poor.  –Mother Theresa

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