I always hesitate to see sequels, but I must give them a look. Often, I am disappointed but there are gems now and then. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish, starring Antonio Banderas, offers a stellar voice cast, a raucously fun story, and exciting animation. More than ten years after his last feature, the famous feline returns, still voiced by Antonio Banderas, who appears to be delighting in playing a character he’s brought to animated life for nearly two decades.

Puss, the infamous swashbuckling cat, discovers he has burnt up eight of his nine lives. To prevent him from using his ninth and ending up six feet under, Puss lands in a home for wayward cats – a place where he won’t risk his life. Soon, however, Puss, who hates the housecat life, learns of a way to salvage his lives. He is joined by delightful comic relief in the form of a dog called Perrito (Harvey Guillén), Puss’s old “adversary” Kitty Softpaws (an enjoyable Salma Hayek), new challenges with the introduction of Goldi (Florence Pugh), and the Three Bears Crime Family, and the incorrigible Jack Horner (John Mulaney), who’s after the world’s magic for himself.

The story is basic and simple enough – the highly-coveted “last wish” (the wishing star) will potentially allow Puss to regain lost lives, Kitty Softpaws has her reason for wanting the star, and Perrito follows along eagerly. Fast on their tales, Goldi, et al. and Horner will stop at nothing to get the coveted prize. The adventure moves forward quickly and analogies and nods follow suit – drawing in adult viewers. I am particularly fond of wasn’t sure what to make of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish during the opening scenes, but once it cut to an Apocalypse Now reference replete with the Doors’ “The End, Half the fun of the film lies in the references to various fairytales pleases and the animation and CGI are first rate.

It is not easy to walk the line between a kid’s cartoon and a story that will entertain parents too, but Universal Studios and director Joel Crawford do it. Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is one of those sequels/films that warrants second (or more) viewings to catch all the references and to enjoy the high-speed action sequences and excellent animation. I am placing 4 stars at the top for this one, not 5, because the ending feels rushed.

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