Puss in Boots: The Animated Picaro

I just got around to seeing Dreamworks new animated feature, “Puss in Boots”. Even though I loved “Rango” for all it’s quirkiness, I have to say “Puss ‘N Boots” is the best animated feature of the year. They combine classic animated fairy tale elements with romantic action adventure, with spaghetti western style. I was never bored, and often laughing. Every aspect of the film, from story to layout to animation was excellent. I was glad I made it to a 3-D screening, because it was the best use of stereo I have seen in a film.

Puss in Boots is also a perfect example of a true picaresque hero. Here is the definition from wikipedia:

The picaresque novel (Spanish: “picaresca,” from “pícaro,” for “rogue” or “rascal”) is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which is usually satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. This style of novel originated in sixteenth century Spain and flourished throughout Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It continues to influence modern literature.

I have to think that the involvement of Guillermo Del Toro in this movie may something to do with it turning out the way it did. The Dreamworks of 10 years ago may have taken it more in the classical direction of the original French character by Charles Perrault.

Picaros are adventurers by nature, and make for intriguing characters. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can be considered a picaresque novel. Huck Finn is a wanderer, who lets the Mississippi River determine his path. Such characters roll against the grain of most film stories, where a character needs to have a goal, a dream, they must struggle to achieve. Picaros are often mostly concerned with simple survival. Also, the Picaro character shows little or no development, they aren’t changed by their experience, which is something often expected of good storytelling. As the definition says, these characters live in corrupt societies, and their actions have as much to do with how they affect the world as how the world affects them. They are true heroes.

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