Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a 2022 American computer-animated adventure film produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Universal Pictures. The sequel to Puss in Boots (2011) and the sixth installment in the Shrek film series, the film was directed by Joel Crawford and co-directed by Januel Mercado with a screenplay by Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow from a story by Swerdlow and the first film’s writer Tom Wheeler, with additional screenplay material provided by Etan Cohen, based on the character from Shrek 2 (2004) and inspired from the fairy tale by Giovanni Francesco Straparola. The voice cast includes Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek Pinault reprising their respective roles as the titular character and Kitty Softpaws, and are joined by Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, John Mulaney, Wagner Moura, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Anthony Mendez who voice new characters introduced in the film. Set after Shrek Forever After (2010), the film follows Puss in Boots (Banderas) as he goes on a journey to find the mystical Last Wish for the Wishing Star by teaming up with his friends Kitty Softpaws (Hayek) and Perrito (Guillén) and restore the eight of his nine lives that he lost while escaping new enemies, Goldilocks, “Big” Jack Horner, and Death (Pugh, Mulaney, and Moura), who plan to hunt him down.
Plans for a sequel to Puss in Boots began in November 2012, when executive producer Guillermo del Toro shared plans to take the titular character on an adventure to a “very exotic locale”. He said a couple of drafts for the screenplay were completed. Work on a sequel began in April 2014, according to Banderas. The film’s title was announced as Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves in June 2014. After being stuck in development hell, Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri was confirmed as an executive producer in November 2018. It was announced that the film would be directed by Bob Persichetti, the head of story of the first film and one of the three directors of Sony Pictures Animation’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), in February 2019. Crawford was later announced as the new director in March 2021, along with Mercado. The majority of the new cast members, along with the returning cast, were announced in March 2022. As with DreamWorks’ previous film The Bad Guys (2022), the inspiration for the film’s animation style came from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Akira (1988), giving it a visual style that resembles storybook illustrations. Rather than utilize the more realistic style introduced in Shrek (2001), the team focused more on a painterly style design, to make the film look like a fairy-tale world by using new technology.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was theatrically released in the United States on December 21, 2022, after being delayed in the expected release schedule due to restructuring at DreamWorks. Critics generally praised the animation, visual style, themes, voice acting, and humor; many of them considered it to be superior to its predecessor. It has grossed over $152 million worldwide. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 80th Golden Globe Awards and also received a nomination in the same category at 28th Critics’ Choice Awards.
In November 2012, executive producer Guillermo del Toro shared director Chris Miller’s intentions to take the titular character on an adventure to a “very exotic locale.” He also said a couple of drafts for the screenplay were completed. In April 2014, voice actor Antonio Banderas said work on the sequel had begun. On June 12, 2014, the movie was titled Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves. In March 2015, Banderas said the script was under restructuring. He also hinted at the possibility of Shrek appearing in the film.
By November 2018, Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri had been brought on board as an executive producer of both Shrek 5 and Puss in Boots 2. In February 2019, it was reported that Bob Persichetti was set to direct the film while Latifa Ouaou, producer of the first film, would oversee the development of the sequel with Meledandri; Persichetti and Ouaou previously worked on the first film as head of story and producer, respectively. On August 19, 2020, DreamWorks trademarked Puss in Boots: The Last Wish as the new title of the sequel, which was approved in December. In March 2021, Joel Crawford replaced Persichetti as director, having previously helmed DreamWorks’ The Croods: A New Age (2020), with producer Mark Swift, editor James Ryan, and screenwriter Paul Fisher returning as collaborators along with Januel Mercado serving as the film’s co-director. Along with Salma Hayek (Now named as Salma Hayek Pinault) reprising her voice role, new cast members were announced in March 2022, including Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Colman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, John Mulaney, Wagner Moura, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Anthony Mendez.
- Antonio Banderas as Puss in Boots, a swashbuckling cat fugitive from the law and a hero of San Ricardo who lost eight of his nine lives.
- Salma Hayek Pinault as Kitty Softpaws, a street-savvy Tuxedo cat who is Puss’ female counterpart and love interest.
- Harvey Guillén as Perrito, a therapy dog who started out as one of Mama Luna’s pet cats, because he disguised himself as a cat.Florence Pugh as Goldilocks, the leader of the Three Bears Crime Family who wants to get the Last Wish in order to use it to regain her biological family.
- Kailey Crawford as Young Goldi
- Olivia Colman as Mama Bear
- Ray Winstone as Papa Bear
- Samson Kayo as Baby Bear
- John Mulaney as “Big” Jack Horner, a feared pastry chef and crime lord who plans to reach the Wishing Star. He holds various magical items, creatures and people ever since he was snubbed of fairy-tale fame.
- Wagner Moura as Wolf / Death, the physical embodiment who takes the form of a white wolf in a black hooded cloak.
- Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Mama Luna, an elderly cat lady who initially takes Puss in.
- Anthony Mendez as the doctor who tells Puss to retire after informing him of his eight deaths.
- Kevin McCann as the Ethical Bug (a parody of Talking Cricket)
- Bernardo De Paula as the Governor of del Mar
- Betsy Sodaro and Artemis Pebdani as the Serpent Sisters who deliver the map to Jack Horner.
- Conrad Vernon as Gingy
- Cody Cameron as Pinocchio
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish was theatrically released on December 21, 2022. It was originally scheduled to be released on November 2, 2018, and later on December 21, 2018, before it was removed from the release schedule altogether in January 2015 due to corporate restructuring and DreamWorks Animation’s new policy to release just two films a year. Upon the project’s resurrection, it was given a release date of September 23, 2022 in March 2021, but in April 2022, the release date was moved to its current December 21 date, taking over the release of Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie. A one-day public screening occurred on November 26, 2022, in select theaters.
The first thirty minutes of the film were shown at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival on June 14, 2022. Critics noted the darker tone of the movie when compared to its predecessor and director Joel Crawford agreed with them, mentioning that Puss’ “fear of death is the engine that drives the movie”.
The film also debuted a new animated logo opening for DreamWorks Animation, showcasing characters from The Bad Guys, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, The Boss Baby, Trolls, and Shrek with a remastered rendition of the 2010 fanfare composed by Harry Gregson-Williams mixed with several notes from the 2019 fanfare composed by John Powell, produced by Suzanne Buirgy from Abominable and Kendall Cronkhite from Trolls served as the production designer.
As part of their 18-month deal with Netflix, the film streamed on Peacock for four months, then moved to Netflix for the next ten, and then will return to Peacock for the remaining four.
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