Puss in Boots in the new DreamWorks Animation movie 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish'
Universal Pictures

Puss In Boots: The Last Wish Is So Fun, But Gets Way Darker Than You Expect

Our favorite swashbuckling feline gets thrown into chaos in the Oscar-nominated film.

We’ve loved Puss (in boots!) since he first sauntered onto screens in Shrek II back in 2004 (we’ll give you a moment to absorb the fact that that’s nearly 20 years ago). His latest adventure is a tale worthy of the adorable, swashbuckling feline, but what age is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish appropriate for? Is the new movie kid-friendly enough for, say, 6-year-olds or younger? The “Stabby Tabby’s” newest chapter is in some ways a tonal departure from what you might be used to, so here’s everything parents need to know.

The story of Puss in Boots: The Last Wish tackles some pretty big themes.

Puss is a renowned bandito and swashbuckler, wanted all throughout the land of fairy tales for his daring (not-strictly-speaking-legal) escapades that earn him the ire of the establishment and the love of the people. Puss is just as well known for his flamboyant style, staring death in the eye and laughing... of course, this is fairly easy to do when you have nine lives. But now, after an unfortunate incident with an oversized bell, Puss is down to his very last life, forcing him to retire and confront his own mortality for the first time ever. The result is a shaken kitty, whose entire sense of self is thrown into chaos.

So when he learns of a wishing star with one wish left, he sets out on an adventure with Kitty Softpaws and the over-earnest Perrito that will give him a new lease on life. That is, of course, assuming he can outwit and outlast Goldilocks and the Three Bears crime family, the megalomaniacal Big Jack Horner, and a mysterious hooded wolf that seems to follow Puss wherever he goes...

Goldie and her family are after the wishing star for reasons that become clear later in the movie.Universal Pictures/Dreamworks

So how kid-friendly is Puss in Boots: The Last Wish?

Like all installments of the Shrek franchise, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, rated PG, is very much a family movie... and we say “family” not “kids” because there’s definitely something for everyone here. That said, some elements of the story are quite spooky, like the shadowy wolf figure on Puss’ tail.

In addition to being spooky, some elements can get pretty dark, like (no spoilers) Perrito’s tragic backstory, made all the more tragic due to the fact that the gangly little dog is too cheerful and optimistic to realize how tragic it is. There’s also a healthy smattering of swear words and almost swear words (think “what the hell,” “crap,” “stupid,” and “idiot”) and humorous use of bleeping in lieu of swear words (generally they’re indecipherable but the use of “[bleep] for brains” is fairly obvious).

The wolf can be very spooky. Universal Pictures/Dreamworks

Common Sense Media suggests this movie is appropriate for kids 8 and older. (Parent and child reviews actually go a little older, 9 years and older, in their judgement.) We’re inclined to agree, though your mile may vary. Some 3-year-olds would probably be fine watching this and some 10-year-olds wouldn’t. It’s all about knowing your kid’s sensitivity levels.

Adults love the new Puss in Boots movie as much (maybe even more) than kids.

The movie has been lauded by audiences and critics alike, with a 94% and 95% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, praising the lush animation style and clever story. Parents on social media report their children loving the movie, which shouldn’t be a surprise since the 22-year-old, multi-billion-dollar franchise has, at this point, gotten “entertaining children” down to a perfect formula. But adults have been just as effusive in their praise of the movie.

“Puss in Boots: The Last Wish why were you so good,” praises Twitter user @Skarfelt_.

“How!? WHY!? does the Puss in Boots movie actually slap!?” raves @KameraNinjaa.

Others have the movie’s depiction of facing the inevitability of death, coping with anxiety, and the complicated dynamics of adoption as being particularly resonant.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish has been nominated for an Oscar, but faces steep competition.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is the sixth feature film in the Shrek franchise and the fourth to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. But while animated features often have a clear frontrunner (usually from Pixar or Disney), competition in the category this year is notably stiff. The Last Wish is facing off against Turning Red, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Variety expects this is going to be the one to beat, though it notes that it’s a tough race), Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, and The Sea Beast. All of the films have earned critical acclaim, and several projects were directed and produced by previous Oscar winners.

But who knows? Puss has certainly faced off against some pretty big foes before...