Reviewed by Adam Donato
Foreground: Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage) and Ryder (voiced by Will Brisbin). Background L-R: Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley), Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), and Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall) in PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spin Master. © 2021 Paramount Pictures.
Children’s movies are somewhat of a contentious subject in the film criticism community. There are those who will defend these movies as they are clearly made for a target demographic. The common retort is that of Pixar and Disney, whose movies become accessible to families as a whole due to their genuine effort to reach beyond their target demographic. Most adults can enjoy a Disney/Pixar movie, less can endure a Dreamworks movie, and only the brave can stomach an Illumination movie. The studio in question today is Nickelodeon.
With hits like The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius far in their own rearview window, the studio is not a model for success in recent history. Sponge on the Run movie became irrelevant due to the pandemic and their last animated movie before that was Wonder Park (oof). The comeback is real as PAW Patrol is one of the most successful pieces of children’s television today. The film has a simultaneous release between theaters and Paramount+, making it accessible to families everywhere. Will PAW Patrol: The Movie be another victim of the dual release box office bomb, or will its innocence shine through? Only time will tell, but one of the biggest deciding factors is whether it transcends its target audience.
Will children enjoy this movie? Probably, sure. There’s a bunch of dogs running around making silly jokes surrounded by pretty colors. The real question is whether adults will like it. Probably not, but it is definitely not a bad movie. Some of the humor is the cringe type with jokes about selfies, social media, and poop, but there are enough cute jokes that will make one exhale out their nostrils. The innocent one-liners and silly characters are sufficient.
The characters are solid. Honestly wish there was more development of the characters on the team. Chase, Rubble, and Liberty have ample screentime to show off their personalities and develop their characters. That being said, if one didn’t remember Zuma’s name after watching this, nobody would blame them. The characters they do show off are vaguely developed. Chase has a clear arc and the rise of Liberty is cute. All the members of the PAW Patrol have a different shtick complete with their own type of vehicle and abilities. The villain is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the movie as he is so cartoonishly evil.
If you have a kid, this is a solid and safe bet at the movies. Besides that, this flick isn’t really worth your time. Nobody will absolutely hate this movie, but it’s certainly nothing to write home about. Maybe the good vibes soundtrack is enough to make this movie feel worth it or for the memes trying to make this kid’s movie into some kind of political commentary. Obviously, this movie is not smart enough to actually say something. That being said, it is smart, you know, for a dog.
PAW Patrol: The Movie is now in theaters and on Paramount+.