Review by James Lindorf
The Canadian animated series “PAW Patrol” premiered ten years ago, and since then, it has resulted in hundreds of episodes, a spin-off series, and two movies. The show, beloved by preschoolers, teaches them vital lessons about community, responsibility, and teamwork. After the success of 2021’s “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” Cal Brunker was brought back as director along with his co-writer Bob Barlen. The second movie, “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” currently in theaters, answers the question, what do you get if you combine Ryder and his pack of rescue pups with the Avengers?
Thanks to scientist Victoria “don’t call her mad” Vance (Taraji P. Henson), a meteor crashes into downtown Adventure City. The damage is devastating but confined to a small area thanks to the Paw Patrol. When they transfer it to their base for study, Skye (Mckenna Grace) discovers magical crystals in the center of the space rock that grants the holders a superpower. The crystals enhance a pup-specific trait and transform the Paw Patrol into The Mighty Pups with gifts including flight, super speed, magnetism, and the ability to turn into a living wrecking ball. With new powers, suits, and gadgets, the team plans to help more people than ever. But things get dangerous when Vance and the pups’ archrival Humdinger break out of jail with a plan to steal the superpowers and turn themselves into supervillains. The fate of Adventure City hangs in the balance, and to win, Skye will need to learn that even the smallest pup can make the biggest difference.
The best animated films like “Toy Story,” “Shrek,” and pretty much anything from Pixar find success by appealing to children and adults alike. Then there is the class of animated films like “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” that are squarely aimed at children and try to do just enough so adults don’t spill a soda on their kid so that they can get out of the theater. On that front, Brunker and Barlen did just enough. They toss in references to superhero movies and action movies much older than the target audience, like feeling the need for speed. They also included a central message about being the underdog and wanting to keep up with your peers that has universal appeal.
From beginning to end, the computer-generated animation of “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” looks excellent, especially in the representation of the superpowers. However, multiple reused sequences exist, such as the dogs getting suited up or getting in their vehicles. These moments work for kids by helping them build excitement and understand the story’s progress. Still, for adults, it gets a bit repetitive. There is one scene that I found surprisingly dark. Eventually, it plays out how you would expect, but there is an increased chance of upset children at that moment. The film features a talented and star-studded cast to accompany the good looks. Half the fun for adults is figuring out which famous person appeared in which minor role. The supporting cast includes actors, athletes, and influencers like Kristen Bell, Lil Rel Howery, Serena Williams, and Kim Kardashian.
“PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” isn’t one of those memorable family movies everyone bonds over. Still, it will make many children very happy, which is every parent’s goal when making the trip to the theater. Coming up with my final score has been a bit more complicated this time around. Do I score it based on how the people reading this will feel, or do I score it relative to how I think the kids will feel? Like the truth, the answer is somewhere in the middle, and in the end, “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” did everything it set out to do and earned 4.5 out of 5.
Genre: Kids & family, Comedy, Adventure, Animation
Director: Cal Brunker
Producer: Jennifer Dodge, Laura Clunie, Toni Stevens
Writer: Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen
Release Date (Theaters): Sep 29, 2023 Wide
Runtime: 1h 32m
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
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