I'm a fan of Antonio Banderas' Puss in Boots, a Latin-lover Zorro so romantic and vain that he's preposterously unaware he's...well, a kitty cat. That said, building an entire animated feature around him turns out to be a bit like making a Marx Brothers movie with just Chico. In the Shrek films, the joke of Puss in Boots, with his trilled consonants and penchant for chest-puffing sword duels, is that no one this cuddly should try to be this dashing. But in Puss in Boots, that joke wears out its welcome in 15 minutes. We're left with the feeling that Puss in Boots, as a character, has exactly one dimension: self-deluded Spanish-macho vainglory. He's like a lost mascot from a taco commercial.
The movie gives Puss a sidekick, the cracked-fairy-tale figure of Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), who was once his comrade and then betrayed him. When the movie plunges into the convoluted backstory of these two, only to emerge from the flashback about 20 minutes later, we begin to realize: The more stuff that happens in Puss in Boots, the less stake we have in it. The movie throws in Jack and Jill (who are corpulent grown-up grouches), magic beans and a beanstalk, a girl kitty (Salma Hayek) dressed, for some reason, as Catwoman, and a whole lot more. Puss in Boots is beautifully animated (with 3-D that adds nothing), but the film is so mindlessly busy that it seems to be trying to distract you from the likable, one-note feline swashbuckler at its center. C