Review: 'Paw Patrol: The Movie' a fun and furry dose of harmless silliness
Courtesy of Paramount
There’s a very small world in which the target demographic for the Nick Jr based “Paw Patrol: The Movie” is reading this review to determine if it’s for them. Regardless of whatever this mid-twenty-year-old critic has to say about a group of adorable canines trying to save Adventure City from the clutches of the nefarious madman Mayor Humdinger, I think three to six year olds are going to wince with glee at the sight of their favorite puppers saving the day, like they always do, but the parents who are forced to go along for the ride (be it inside a movie theater or living room filled with young tykes) will appreciate the film’s cheery sense of humor and educational elements.
Full disclosure, I’m not big on “Paw Patrol” lore, but the opening scene quickly acclimated me to this colorful world where a squad of canine heroes, along with their 10-year-old human handler Ryder (voiced by Will Brisbin) are commonplace when peril strikes. They have telephones which beep in their pockets and at Paw Patrol headquarters alerting them when disaster strikes. Oh, and they can talk, which nobody has any issues with. I grew up on the “Rugrats” craze, so I get the hype, and my five-year old nephew cherishes “Paw Patrol” (that opening jingle is infectiously catchy). And “Paw Patrol: The Movie” is harmless, silly fun.
As for the plot, it involves the gang, lead by Chase (Ian Armitage), a spirited German Shepherd, getting a call from nearby Adventure City via a dachshund named Liberty (Marsai Martin) alerting the group to the maniacal plans of Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo), a known enemy putting dogs and humans in harm’s way with something called the “Cloud Catcher,” a device built to help study weather patterns, that he’s using to cultivate the “fun city” for his own ego stroking.
The Chaos creates all types of friction for the citizens of Adventure City, but also for Chase, who is struggling with PTSD (when he was a young pup, a car almost almost ran him over on the streets). Those emotions come rushing back to Chase and it’s important for children to understand they can openly talk about how something makes them feel even if it’s scary. Despite support from his pals, Chase bolts for the exit and ends up in the clutches of Humdinger’s bumbling, appropriately cartoonish henchmen, and the film shifts gears into an all-hands-on deck rescue mission complete with cool gadgets and slick vehicles and aircrafts. In another world, I’d like to see the tax documents for how Paw Patrol is funded, because some of this artillery doesn’t look cheap.
Of course, this G-rated adventure isn’t going to offer much surprise, and despite citizens being stranded on a subway train suspended in mid-air because the tracks were constructed like Hot Wheels tracks, nobody is ever in any “real” danger. But I still appreciated that “Paw Patrol: The Movie” treats kids as equals and doesn’t talk down to them, rather, encouraging them to be brave and face their fears while also sneaking in subtle digs at political corruption (yes, political corruption) and even climate change. That this family film is even remotely watchable for those outside of the Pre-K fanbase is quite the achievement, and who knows, maybe in the future I’ll be a cadet for the Paw Patrol fan-club. Crazier things have happened.
PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE opens in theaters and streams on Paramount+ Friday, August 20th.