Puss in Boots
Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek | PG |
It’s no easy trick giving a minor character a story substantial enough to warrant its own film (see: Cars 2: The Mater Mistake). But the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots lands solidly by dosing a proven formula with new flavor. Puss (Banderas) gets a lead on a legendary treasure: the goose that lays golden eggs atop Jack’s beanstalk. To get it, he’ll need to team up with his shifty boyhood buddy Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and the bad egg’s sidekick Kitty Softpaws (Hayek). Dashes across the desert and up the beanstalk jazz up the otherwise pointless 3-D, but real fun is in the smarter-than-average jokes, with Banderas and Hayek injecting verve into their voice work. One tip: Tell kids not to wait for Shrek or Donkey to appear. This fairy tale really is ogre-free.
Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence | PG-13 |
There’s nothing so intoxicating as young love-and nothing so rash. British coed Anna (Jones) falls for classmate Jacob (Yelchin) while studying in California. They share the kind of courtship that ought to be on film, primal kisses and longing glances highlighting Jones’s incandescence and Yelchin’s stealth sexiness. Then Anna foolishly overstays her visa, and the real world of laws and long distances intervenes. Like Crazy flags in the wake of Anna and Jacob’s separation, as they fight to stay together even as they’re enticed by other people. But it still makes for a most satisfying and wrenching romance.
Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto | PG-13 |
That Shakespeare didn’t write the plays attributed to him is the least nutty idea in Anonymous. Director Roland Emmerich faithfully re-creates the look of 16th-century England but rewrites history to suit the theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (Ifans), penned the Bard’s plays and had an affair with a dotty Queen Elizabeth I (deftly played by Joely Richardson and her mother, Vanessa Redgrave). All of that is forgivable until you tack on a confusing narrative and a slew of characters who look suspiciously alike. (Best not to ask why.) The bright spot is Ifans, whose de Vere is an exquisitely tortured poet, whether or not he wrote Hamlet.