Director: Chris Miller Starring: Voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis Time Out rating: Japanese title:Nagagutsu wo Haita Neko
He goes by many names, we’re told: El Diablo Gato, Frisky Two-Times, The Gingerhead Man. We call him: One Last Chance to Squeeze More Money Out of the Shrek Franchise. As potential spin-off characters go, you could do worse than Antonio Banderas’s suave swashbuckling tabby (imagine 90 minutes of Eddie Murphy’s Donkey). There are only so many cat jokes and meta-fairy-tale references one can make, however, before it’s necessary to actually deliver something resembling a story. So, in between gags involving milk-lapping and litter boxes, we get a cobbled-together tale about the Spanish feline and his foster-home brother Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) stealing magic beans from Jack and Jill, here reimagined as a hillbilly Bonnie and Clyde. Teaming up with the pussy and the egg is Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), the world’s greatest feline thief and, once the Frida starlet starts purring ‘meow’, a chance for younger filmgoers to start puberty early.
Yes, there are morals about it never being too late to do the right thing and sticking by your friends, as well there should be; Katzenberg forbid kids should have to learn about this stuff from their parents. But who needs a narrative when you’ve got a few funny lines (caught with catnip, Puss declares it’s ‘for my glaucoma’), a Morricone knockoff score and a climactic sequence with something we’ll call Goosezilla? The pomo thrill was already wearing thin a few Shrek entries ago; here, the reliance on self-referentiality really risks coming off like yesterday’s Purina.