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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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Augustine of Canterbury: In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September 3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless. 
<p>Augustine again set out. This time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian, Bertha. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester. </p><p>Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors </p><p>Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Augustine of Canterbury can truly be called the “Apostle of England.”</p> American Catholic Blog When we go through pain it is easy to feel abandoned or forgotten, but suffering doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us, He does. Even Jesus suffered, and He was completely without sin.

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