PAW Patrol: The Movie (2021)

Genres - Action, Children's/Family, Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Family-Oriented Comedy  |   Release Date - Aug 20, 2021 (USA)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jules Fox

Paw Patrol: The Movie is the first feature film from the successful kids cartoon franchise, Paw Patrol. A young boy and his group of rescue service dogs that have transforming vehicles must team up to stop a dastardly villain from destroying Adventure City. But they may need to recruit some new help and new gadgets along the way.

10-year-old Ryder (Will Brisbin) and his eclectic group of vigilante rescue puppies, called the PAW Patrol, come to the rescue as a truck driver (Tyler Perry) is inside his precariously dangling truck that's over the edge of a bridge after it swerved to dodge a baby turtle. Once the situation is safe, the team of young pups rides into Adventure City in style.

They've been granted new special spy suits, better upgraded transforming vehicles, a new headquarters equipped with robotics, and even a pink helicopter/fighter jet for the only girl puppy in the group, Skye (Lilly Bartlam). But since they've transitioned from Adventure Bay to Adventure City, they now have to go head-to-head with the reckless Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) who will go to any lengths, including destroying the city, to prove to the citizens that he is a competent and capable mayor with everyone's best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, German shepherd Chase (Iain Armitage) is still haunted by trauma from when he grew up in Adventure City. He remembers being alone in a big place, which can be very scary for a young puppy. With the help of street-smart newcomer Liberty (Marsai Martin), the PAW Patrol manages to navigate the perils, from fireworks to a special weather studying machine. But will they be able to stop Mayor Humdinger from burying the city with his good ideas?

Co-directed by newcomer Andrew Hickson and cowriter Cal Brunker (Escape From Planet Earth, The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature), Paw Patrol: The Movie delivers much more than its uninspired title would lead you to believe. The jokes, intonations, perilous situations, and the villain are all geared toward very young children. That is to say, laughs and excitement won't be at a premium for the older-than-6 crowd. But what is there is done well.

A talented voice actor cast includes Perry, Pardo, Brisbin, Jimmy Kimmel, Dax Shepard, and a host of well coached kids. Gorgeous visuals breeze by at a very swift pace as the action heroes relentlessly jump from thing to thing. The one main drawback of the film is that it unpretentiously plays out as an extended commercial for Paw Patrol merchandise.

More fun than expected for little ones who aren't picky about what they watch, the G-rated Paw Patrol: The Movie delivers life lessons in friendship, teamwork, and facing your fears without much heavy-handedness. While it may be a little more tedious for older kids and adults, it's a very good example of what's appropriate for young kids, and how to stick to a perfectly good cartoon concept without having to make it any bigger, louder, or catering to all audiences.