By Bob Garver
The animated “PAW Patrol” franchise doesn’t have the “all ages” appeal of the best of Disney and Pixar. It’s from Nickelodeon, but it doesn’t even match that channel’s branded appeal to both kids and a particular brand of immature adults (“Ren and Stimpy” and “SpongeBob SquarePants” come to mind as examples). No, that’s just kid stuff, and since I’m no longer a child myself and I don’t have any children of my own, “PAW Patrol: The Movie” is not for me. The most fun I can make with this film is making the occasional snappy joke out of harmless material. Parents, you can at least enjoy how much your children (and they must be young children, like kindergarten or below) enjoy this movie, but there is nothing for yourself.
The story follows the mostly dog-like PAW Patrol on their way from the small town of Adventure Bay to the urban metropolis of Adventure City. City dog Liberty (child prodigy actress / producer Marsai Martin) calls them to limit the damage to the newly “elected” Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo), who is more of a cat person. Just having a bad mayor is usually not a reason to call 911, but in this case it is absolutely necessary. As the film progresses, Humdinger will set off reckless fireworks (I saw this movie in a city that had similarly reckless fireworks about a decade ago), add to the city’s subway, and cause a massive storm by creating a overloaded educational weather machine. By the way, Humdinger belongs to any political party you don’t like.
It’s up to the PAW Patrol to save the day: Human Leader Ryder (Will Brisbin), Cop Chase (Iain Armitage), Aviator Skye (Lilly Bartlam), Firefighter Marshall (Kingsley Marshall), Recycled Rocky (Callum Shoniker), Zuma on the subject of water (Shayle Simons) and on building on the subject of rubble (Keegan Hedley). The puppy with the most personality is Chase, who is scared of returning to Adventure City after having a bad experience there in the past. He has to learn a lesson about bravery in order for the film to meet the minimum substance requirements, I mean, so that he can save the day.
The film doesn’t put a lot of emphasis on its script or characters, but it puts a lot into the vehicles they drive, the buildings they inhabit, and the accessories they use. This is not a movie to worry about being too much of a glorified toy commercial. Ryder even makes a confident slap on the team’s merchandising. Perhaps that is why all perfectly capable dogs respond to a human – he recognizes a good marketing opportunity when he sees one.
This may seem strange, but being in theaters with young kids for PAW Patrol: The Movie was a lot like being in theaters with teenagers for Twilight in 2008. The film got me in and nothing by itself, but the reactions of the fans in the audience were contagious. They climbed into their seats, laughed and screamed at every little thing on the screen, and declared out loud that it was the greatest movie of all time. The audience on “PAW Patrol” also got quite loud.
PAW Patrol: The Movie is not for me, it is not for adults unless they are accompanied by a child, and it is not for children over the age of six. The pace was too slow for me, the jokes weren’t funny, and the shillings of toys were too obvious. But the target audience kids had the time of their lives, so I can’t say the film missed its goal of getting them. Let’s say it averages C.
“PAW Patrol: The Movie” is showing in theaters and can be streamed on Paramount +. The film is rated G. The running time is 86 minutes.
Image Credit: IMDB