Review by Adam Donato
At the beginning of 2023, parents complained about limited options for children’s films at the theater. After a summer of stellar animated movies, the fall delivers PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. In this sequel to the first film, Chase and his friends receive superpowers from an errant meteor and must stop a mad scientist from trying to destroy the city. Nickelodeon is coming off a win with the recent reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and hopefully that streak can continue here.
The biggest takeaway from this entry into the franchise is that Chase is no longer the center of attention, as he was in the first movie. Instead, the sequel turns its attention to Skye’s character. She’s insecure about her size, as she feels like the runt of the litter. Her character is even given a Jessie from Toy Story 2 type sequence, where we get to see her origin story. Significant screen time is also given to Liberty’s character, as she is the only member of the PAW Patrol to not receive superpowers, and is left with the responsibility of watching after the new kitty recruits. As the female comic relief of the movie, this provides ample opportunity for cute humor so that Rubble isn’t having all the fun. Rounding out the major players in this sequel is Victoria Vance, the antagonist to the PAW Patrol. The name is a good indicator of the comic book inspiration for the character. Fans of the first movie get to see her team up with Mayor Humdinger, another superhero movie trope. Nobody expects PAW Patrol to reinvent the genre, so don’t expect kids to call out the movie for its derivative tropes the way adults did fellow superhero film, Blue Beetle.
Kids are sure to enjoy PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie for a myriad of reasons. All the characters are given time to shine, and supporting characters are able to take center stage. The amount of little girls lining up at the press screening to take a picture with the Skye poster was staggering. This is a solid achievement, as one might assume PAW Patrol leans more towards little boys. The action is fun and light, without being too dangerous. While the majority of the jokes are aimed at the kiddos, there are a few jokes for the parents that really work. Visually, the characters are cute and full of color. While the bar is obnoxiously low, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie delivers everything it needs for a fun family outing.
In a day and age when children’s content is being inspected under a microscope, it’s interesting not to hear PAW Patrol catch criticism. If two women kissing in the background of a Pixar movie is a federal case, then PAW Patrol is not innocent. The police, as well as other government workers, are the real superheroes. A prominent building in the middle of the city is crashed into, laying devastation to the citizens below. The villain is a quirky woman of color with dyed hair, whose ship emanates the colors of the trans flag as it flies by. She teams up with a foolish old man who speaks lovingly about stolen elections. Is PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie right-wing propaganda aimed to corrupt America’s youth with conservative ideology? Of course not. Even the most innocent of children’s content can be twisted, perverted, and weaponized in today’s political landscape. Not everything needs to be a conspiracy theory.
But again, the target audience of this movie is primarily in pre-school, and they probably won't understand — much less care about — these undercurrents. Unless you have kids or just enjoy wholesome animation, more adult options like Saw X and The Creator are also opening this weekend. That being said, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is a wonderful family outing that kids are sure to eat up every last bite of. Expect this one to hit Paramount+ just in time for the Christmas season. The subject matter is ripe for toys and other children’s merchandise. Dark and gritty, be damned! This sequel is a ray of cuteness and delight. Be sure to take the kiddies out to see this one!
PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie hits theaters on September 29.