Genre: CG Animation
Director: Cal Brunker
Cast: Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Ron Pardo, Yara Shahidi, Kim Kardashian West, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel, Will Brisbin
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins
Released By: UIP
Opening Day: 9 September 2021
Synopsis: The PAW Patrol is on a roll! When their biggest rival, Humdinger, becomes Mayor of nearby Adventure City and starts wreaking havoc, Ryder and everyone’s fav orite heroic pups kick into high gear to face the challenge head on. While one pup must face his past in Adventure City, the team finds help from a new ally, the savvy dachshund Liberty. Together, armed with exciting new gadgets and gear, the PAW Patrol fights to save the citizens of Adventure City!
Unless you’re a parent of a kid below the age of 12, you probably won’t be enthused by this big-screen adventure of the puppy heroes of the hit Nickelodeon animated series. Comprising a team of dogs led by 10-year-old Ryder, the Paw Patrol are the heroes of the seaside town of Adventure Bay, using their skills in firefighting, aviation and policing alongside a dizzying array of high-tech gadgets to stop the fiendish Mayor Humdinger and his pack of six Kitty Catastrophe Crew.
And yet it is precisely because of such expectations that leave us proud to declare that ‘Paw Patrol: The Movie’ is surprisingly enjoyable, buoyed not only by its infectiously peppy spirit but also its all-around sweetly earnest disposition. Those are the very same qualities that have made the series so popular since its debut back in 2013, earning fans among the pre-school and grade-school set as well as plaudits from parents and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Though it introduces us to Ryder (voiced by Will Brisbin) and his team of pups by way of a mission to rescue a stranded truck driver stuck in his vehicle dangling over a bridge just outside Adventure Bay, most of the action unfolds in the neighbouring Adventure City, where Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) has just won the city’s elections by eliminating any competition. Sensing that the mayor is up to no good, the group’s number one superfan Liberty (Marsai Martin) call them for help to avert the chaos she is sure will ensue.
While firefighter Marshall (Kingsley Marshall), pilot Skye (Lilly Bartlam), bulldozing bulldog Rubble (Keegan Hedley), recycling handypup Rocky (Callum Shoniker) and aquatic rescuer Zuma (Shayle Simons) are excited for their big-city adventure, their leader and police dog Chase (Iain Armitage) is hesitant, recalling his early years as a scared stray wandering the streets of the city. True enough, those memories will come back to haunt Chase, as he loses his nerves and judgment over two successive operations involving an incident of fireworks gone rogue and another of a subway train stuck in a loop-de-loop.
Will Chase eventually overcome his insecurities and prove himself to be the hero he has always been? Will his team accept him back into the fold? Will they save Adventure City from the peril wrought by Mayor Humbinger’s hubris? Let’s face it: given its target audience, there should never have been any doubt how this adventure would end. And yet, that the journey proves no less engaging is credit to director Cal Brunker and his co-writers Billy Frolick and Bob Farlen, who keep the pace brisk, the humour droll and the action aplenty.
Like we said, there is no cynicism to be found here; instead, true to the spirit of the TV series, the tone is consistently genuine and genuinely good-hearted. It is precisely this disposition that makes its lessons about courage, team spirit and self-confidence ring true, and all the more satisfying for parents accompanying their children to the cinema. To be sure though, it’s also a diverting enough animation on its own, so those who have been dragged to it by their kids at least won’t feel as if it were 88 minutes of their time they would never get back.
No one should and would walk into ‘Paw Patrol: The Movie’ expecting Pixar-level quality, but as a big-screen extension of the animated series, this outing will do just fine both for kids and their adult companions. Indeed, this is as true and through a good old-fashioned family-friendly animated adventure as it gets, so whether you had a choice going with your kids to the movies for this, we dare say you will find yourself enjoying it much, much more than you’d probably imagine.
(Packed with adventure, humour and warmth, this friendly-for-all-ages animated movie is great for kids and perhaps even their adult companions)
Review by Gabriel Chong