Antonio Banderas stole the show in the Shrek movies as a smooth, swashbuckling cat, but now that Puss in Boots is its own feature film, he faces a formidable scene-stealer of his own: Zach Galifianakis as Humpty Dumpty.
The entire opening of the film, set to debut Nov. 4, was previewed by DreamWorks Animation at CinemaCon in Las Vegas on Monday, revealing a comedy-adventure that is more of a straight-up fantasy than a mash-up spoof of pop culture and fairy tales, like Shrek. The biggest revelation in the footage was The Hangover star Galifianakis as the rotund, thin-shelled former partner of the wily cat.
“I smell something … familiar,” Puss says, drawing breath. “Something … dangerous. Something … breakfast-y!” before whirling to stab his sword at his old friend turned nemesis.
“You left me cracked in pieces on a bridge, surrounded by soldiers!” Humpty counters. “They wrote a song about it!”
The new scheme pulling them together: steal the magic beans from the murderous outlaws Jack and Jill — another major character reveal, voiced by Amy Sedaris and Billy Bob Thornton. This pair is far different from the innocent boy and girl we picture going up the hill to fetch a pail of water. They are grumbling, hulking grotesques who intend to use the beans to climb to the giant’s sky lair and steal the goose who lays golden eggs.
Salma Hayek plays Kitty Softpaws, a feline thief who convinces Puss and Humpty to put aside their differences and join forces to steal the beans. Puss is initially resistant, despite Humpty’s desperate entreaties: “Do you know what they do to eggs in prison?” Humpty asks, gulping, as he pleads for help. “I’ll tell you this, my friend … it ain’t over easy.”
Unfortunately, the biggest weakness Puss has is that he’s loyal to a fault, director Chris Miller said backstage before the presentation. “His want and desire to believe the best in someone else, and hang on to a friendship, those are the kind of things that get him in trouble,” Miller says.
The film draws on classic gunslinger tales for much of its influence, with an opening saloon sequence and music score that plays off Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns. The new poster for Puss in Boots cleverly spoofs Clint Eastwood in the famous one-sheet for Unforgiven. “The film does gather inspiration from those classic, legendary characters,” Miller says. “There is a little bit of Clint Eastwood in there, but also Zorro, and Indiana Jones. Even James Bond, to an extent.”