Zoe wanted to see Puss in Boots for her birthday, so off we go. I knew there would be orphan themes, given the inclusion of the movie in Jeff Alexander's Time piece, Children's Movies Have Too Many Orphans.
*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*
The back-story for Puss is that a desert wind blew his basket (no explanation of how he got in the basket) right to the steps of an orphanage. He is taken in by the head of the orphanage, whom he later calls Mama. Mama is alternately proud of Puss and too ready to condemn him without listening, but she isn't an evil caricature of an orphanage head, nor is the orphanage a dark and depressing place.
At the orphanage, Puss meets Humpty Dumpty and they become blood/yolk brothers. They have an idyllic childhood of hijinks until Humpty goes too far and drags Puss into his life of crime. Humpty is caught and goes to jail, and Puss now has a price on his head. In current time, Humpty tricks Puss into stealing the goose that lays golden eggs so that he can turn Puss into the police as revenge for Puss deserting him and letting him go to jail.
In the end, Humpty and Puss reconcile and Humpty sacrifices himself for the greater good.
As one would expect, there are themes of abandonment and the meaning of family, though they are not very thoroughly developed. There is much dialogue about Puss and Humpty as brothers, and how brothers should treat each other. I don't think the word "adoption" was ever mentioned in the movie, and even in scenes after Puss calls the orphanage head Mama, both Puss and Humpty refer to themselves as orphans.
Also not developed but suggestive was Kitty Soft-Paw's back-story. She recounts that she was taken in by a couple who fed her milk and loved her -- and then de-clawed her. She expresses pain and grief over losing her claws. She doesn't know why they de-clawed her, but she says maybe she clawed the curtains or played too rough with the hamster.
Hmmm, I can certainly read some adoptee themes here -- that often adoptive families expect adoptees to change, rather than the family change to accommodate the adoptee, and the adoptee's self-blame when that change is presented as necessary. But, again, these themes were not really developed in any way.
All in all, it was pretty innocuous on the adoption front. I think it helped that Puss is an animal (though certainly anthropomorphized) in a world of humans; his adoptive mother is human, so it comes across more as "animal adoption" rather than "transracial (trans-species?) adoption" like in Kung Fu Panda 2, where panda Po is adopted by Papa goose. The only problem my kids had with the film was that Humpty gets scrambled at the end.
So there you have it. Do with it what you will!
Resisting family separation
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