In an article about the sequel to 'Puss in Boots,' the fuzzy orange swashbuckler stands in front of the shadowy figure of death.

‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’ Is Psychologically Satisfying

The second installment in this Dreamworks saga is surprisingly morally complex.
February 14, 2023
8 mins read

The most recent installment of the Puss in Boots saga blew watchers out of the water as DreamWorks put the beloved talking cat through the wringer. Not only have they made him more compelling, but other characters, new and old, have stolen the hearts of fans. When someone thinks about a fictional protagonist, a hero or a legend, no one considers the genuine feelings these characters may have. “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” changes that. Each character in the film experiences their own mental mountains that they must overcome as everyone races to make a wish that will grant them what they truly want. One might ask for more lives, someone they can ultimately trust or simply the “just right” family. Whatever the wish may be, it’s important to see exactly what each character has experienced in their past and how it is conveyed to the audience.    

Puss in Boots’ Anxiety:

It may come as a surprise to viewers that this cat suddenly has anxiety, but it’s not without cause. After Puss in Boots fights a giant (one that he woke up, mind you), he suddenly meets his end when a giant bell comes crashing down on top of him. Once he wakes up at the doctor’s office and realizes that he is down to his very last life, Puss doesn’t want to acknowledge that retirement may be the best option for him. Instead, he finds himself at a bar where the Big Bad Wolf threatens to take his final life. Puss initially mistakes him for a bounty hunter, but eventually realizes that the wolf is Death himself, come to collect his final life. This is where his overwhelming sense of dread and fear begins.

Faint whistling follows Puss wherever he goes, which causes his fur to stand on end whenever he spots Death in person. Puss in Boots allows this anxiety to take control of his life, and it leads him to bury his hat, cape and famous boots as he finally decides to retire. That is, until he learns that a fallen star can grant his wish to receive a new set of lives. A specific scene that has grabbed the attention of multiple fans and viewers alike is when Puss experiences a severe panic attack because of his anxiety. 

Leading up to the attack is a classic fight scene where Puss and his crew fight to retrieve a map that will lead them to the coveted wish. Puss can no longer “laugh at the face of Death” as he now fears every sword and explosion that comes his way. The music comes to a halt as time slows and the sound of a familiar whistle catches his attention. The moment he spots Death, Puss in Boots takes off running, leaving his companions and the map behind. Perrito, a homeless chihuahua, finds Puss in the middle of a panic attack and goes to comfort him. It’s a gut-wrenching scene that depicts a panic attack so vividly and accurately that many fans who have suffered through them were impressed. It takes a minute for Puss to come back to reality, but thanks to Perrito’s assurance Puss finally admits his fear of dying. To have a character that’s displayed as a hero admit his own fears aloud is an eye-opening moment within the film, yet he’s not the only character to admit such a fear.

Kitty Softpaws’ Monophobia:

Kitty Softpaws was first introduced in the movie “Puss in Boots,” where viewers learned that she was abandoned by her previous owners for reasons unknown. That moment in her life changed her entire character and it’s something we don’t get to actually see. Her wariness carries into the second movie when she continuously keeps her guard up around Puss and Perrito, keeping a close eye on the map. Like Puss, she wants to use the wish for herself so that she can finally have someone she can trust. But as the movie progresses, Kitty realizes that maybe the wish is no longer needed since something has changed within Puss in Boots. Kitty realizes that her wish has been granted without the fallen star, firmly believing that Puss is the one true person (or rather, cat) she can trust.   

Goldi and the “Just Right” Family: 

Goldi, an orphaned child who was adopted into The Three Bears family, also has her heart set on making a wish. The film depicts the group as a rambunctious teasing gang, but they’re actually a pretty loving family unit. Nevertheless, Goldi feels that something isn’t right. The problem? Her family consists of bears rather than human parents. Yet these bears – Papa, Mama and Baby – love her all the same. Throughout the movie they reminisce on memories that make each of them feel nostalgic. Goldi’s memory consists of a fairytale book she was obsessed with as a child. The audience sees a younger Goldi drawing in a book and adding her messy golden buns onto a child who stands alongside two adult humans. It becomes clear from this point on that she wants that “just right” family, consisting of human parents rather than bears. Her persistence in making this wish a reality follows her throughout the entire narrative, yet at the end of the movie she is ultimately left with a choice to save the family she has already or to finally get the one she’s always wanted. Goldi, at the very end, chooses the family she found, because, as Perrito says, “Speaking from one orphan to another, Goldi, you won the orphan lottery.”     

DreamWorks didn’t pull any punches when detailing why each character so desperately wanted a wish. From Goldi’s obsession with the perfect family to Puss’ fear of death, “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is psychologically satisfying to watch. For those who have experienced these desires or fears, it’s reassuring to know that heroes and villains experince these kinds of emotions too. It isn’t realistic to expect magical wishes to dissolve life’s problems, which is exactly why the ending of “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish” is fantastic to watch. Every character gains an overwhelming sense of clarity through the knowledge that what they have is all they truly need.

Kirsten Kalebich, Arizona State University

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Kirsten Kalebich

Arizona State University
Major in English, Minor in Business

A dreamer who wants to become an author or editor. In her spare time, she writes countless stories on her phone and reads an insane amount of fiction.

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