10/28/2011 AT 7:00 AM ET
It’s no easy trick giving a minor character a story substantial enough to warrant its own film (see: Cars 2: The Master Mistake).
But the Shrek spinoff Puss in Boots lands solidly by dosing a proven formula with new flavor.
Puss (Antonio Banderas) gets a lead on a legendary treasure: the goose that lays golden eggs atop Jack’s beanstalk.
To get it, he’ll need to team up with his shifty boyhood buddy Humpty Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis) and the bad egg’s sidekick Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek).
Dashes across the desert and up the beanstalk jazz up the otherwise pointless 3-D, but real fun is in the smarter-than-average jokes, with Banderas and Hayek injecting verve into their voice work.
One tip: Tell kids not to wait for Shrek or Donkey to appear. This fairy tale really is ogre-free.
For more of Alynda Wheat’s reviews, including her takes on ANONYMOUS and LIKE CRAZY, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now