It’s hard to hate something that does exactly what it says on the tin. Sure, one can accuse a towel rack of being visually off-putting. but as long as that rack can keep a towel from taking up floor space, one can’t totally dislike it. And oddly enough, that’s where I’m at with Paw Patrol: The Movie. As someone who didn’t watch the TV series, I needed this movie to do one thing: make a case for why little ones love it so much. specifically, it had to show cute, luxurious dogs saving people in dangerous situations. for all the things the movie gets wrong, at least it gets it right.
In fact, sticking to a formula is what the film does best. this is a showcase of rescue dogs in action, and that comes from the fact that they do it with style. Each Paw Patrol member has a transforming vehicle, and they’re as elaborate as they are useful. for example, there is a fire truck with a ladder that can extend the distance of several multi-story buildings. Plus, there’s a helicopter that can turn into a jet when you need more power to fly. honestly, it gets to a point where these transformations are more of a show than anything the dogs do. Still, none of this represents the film betraying its intended audience.
Of course, relying so much on a formula has a downside: anything that looks like a surprise disappears. this is evident for the first time in the narration that one can expose while sleeping. Adjacent to the Paw Patrol’s base of operations is Adventure City, where newly appointed Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) wants to tweak it in significant and dangerous ways. So it’s up to Paw Patrol leader Ryder (Will Brisbin) and his team of rescue dogs to stop Humdinger from putting people in harm’s way. Along the way, they meet a dog named Liberty (Marsai Martin), who has an undying desire to join the team. And to further complicate matters, key member Chase (Iain Armitage) begins to struggle with his duties when his troubled past in adventure town comes back to haunt him.
read: ‘monsters at work’ ep. 8 – review of “little monsters”
That’s a lot of moving parts to cram into a brisk 88-minute runtime. and, unsurprisingly, the filmmakers find it difficult to juggle between them. It’s clear that screenwriters Billy Frolick, Cal Brunker, and Bob Barlen wanted to bring the typical “let’s stop the bad guy” narrative to life. but based on these results, all they did was make things worse. nowhere is this more obvious than in how it deals with the chase subplot. First of all, this story pushes the other members of the paw patrol into the background. As a result, the film has no chance of being a fun ensemble piece that gives everyone equal treatment. Second, the immersion in the chase fight is very shallow. brunker, who also directs, does nothing to convey the character’s fear other than include generic pop songs on the soundtrack.
Says a lot about Paw Patrol: The movie where one of its most riveting scenes comes from a lack of attention to detail. In the first big action scene, Ryder and the dogs have to get people out of a burning building. And since they have a fire truck at their disposal, Ryder would surely make good use of it. but that’s not what happens! Instead, Ryder instructs Chase of all the dogs to go into the building. It’s only when Chase falls off the balcony of the burning building that the fire truck’s dog bothers to show up. if this were a sensible writer, this would play out differently. but since these writers are not sensible, the result is a scene so silly that it actually becomes memorable.
I wish the lack of freshness was applied to the story and nothing else. but it turns out that obsolescence extends to gags as well. Sure, it’s a good thing that most of his jokes aren’t trying to play to the lowest common denominator. Indeed, the most memorable recurring joke, Humdinger’s endless supply of top hats, is a perfectly apt example of physical humor. however, having jokes that are somehow funny would be better, and that’s something Paw Patrol: The Movie refuses to have. more often than not, filmmakers are satisfied with creating dog puns that can’t help but be embarrassing. And while the top hat joke is decent, the other major joke, Humdinger’s two henchmen arguing over who’s the best, is nothing short of boring.
Admittedly, the transition from TV to film works to the benefit of film. I may not have seen a full episode, but I know the series didn’t have an elaborate performance. meanwhile, the movie has as much gloss as any of the big animation studios. although the character designs remain as bland as ever, the lighting and colors are much more elaborate. therefore, there are staging action sequences appropriate for a feature film project. And when you don’t commit to detailed renderings of simple designs, you lean even more towards simplicity with 2d animation and bold colors. Granted, this bold style only comes through in the main sequence, but I’m glad it’s here.
On almost every level, Paw Patrol: The Movie accomplishes the bare minimum. none of the comedy hits hard, but they do have enough effort to read like jokes. Most dogs don’t have strong personalities, but they are cute and funny. none of the dramatic moments carry much weight, but they make enough narrative sense that it’s hard to remove them. Simply put, it’s a movie that exists™ and won’t ruin anyone’s day. at the same time, it’s so dispassionate that anyone outside the target audience will probably forget about it within a few hours. – tan marking
paw patrol: the movie is available in theaters and streaming on paramount+.
The film stars Iain Armitage, Will Brisbin, Ron Pardo, Marsai Martin, Yara Shahidi, Randall Park, and Dax Shepard.