Would it be unprofessional if my review of Paw Patrol: The Movie was just me screaming for several paragraphs? Yes? Well, I’m gonna do it for the intro at least.
Paw Patrol: The Movie
Director: Cal Brunker
Release Date: August 20, 2021 (Theatrical, Paramount+)
So look, I know I’m not the target audience for this movie. The screaming toddlers in my theater are proof of that. The parents who were on their phones or trying to contain their rude and disruptive children are also a strong piece of evidence in my favor. I’m not supposed to watch this movie, and that’s okay. Sometimes I’m forced to do things I don’t want to do. But if I have to pay actual money to go see a movie and then have to sit for 88 minutes watching it and contemplating all of the various ways I can drown my sorrows once I leave the theater, then by God I’m going to review it.
Let me tell you a story. The story of how I had to see Paw Patrol: The Movie. Gather round children and sit your butts down. I guarantee you that it will be more entertaining than the actual movie.
There I was, sitting and looking at the August release schedule. August is usually a dead month for movies and this August actually broke tradition. Free Guy, The Suicide Squad, and Candyman actually look interesting and I wanted to see all of them. But then I saw that Paw Patrol: The Movie was releasing and as per my blood oath with the monster who runs this site, I am contractually obligated to review any and all dog movies. Yes, even ones about animated bootlicker dogs.
But as the date grew closer and closer, I needed someone with me. There was no reality that I was going to experience the shame, the indignity, the abject patheticness of saying “one for Paw Patrol: The Movie, please.” So I began to hunt for a
sacrifice partner. I searched and after a few people dropped out, I found one of my friends whom I now owe a vial of blood to for seeing this movie. Don’t worry, they’re a witch, so it’s good… I think. We went in, heard the crazed children, saw them standing on the seats, and then braced ourselves. Well, I mean I braced myself. She was on her phone the whole time. I actually had to go to work.
Saccharine wouldn’t begin to describe the plot of Paw Patrol: The Movie. The premise is basic enough: six dogs are rescue rangers who each have a certain set of skills to solve emergency situations like fires, endangered civilians, and apparently sky beams. Yes, this movie TECHNICALLY has a sky beam in the loosest definition of the trope, but it is a sky beam nonetheless.
Anyway, the dogs are summoned to Adventure City to stop the mayor, who is their rival Humdinger (Ron Pardo), who is also the whitest man in existence. He breathes caucacity and makes me want to invent a drinking game where every time he does something white, you drink. You’d be surprisingly plastered after one scene of this boomer trash. But oh no! Chase (Iain Armitage) is afraid of the city because of how he was abandoned there, which is getting in the way of his job rescuing people! What will he do?
The characters all speak in catchphrases and have no personalities at all. If I ever have to hear “Chase is on the case” or “Rubble on the double” in casual conversation, whatever is left of my black soul will wither away just a little bit more. It is impossible to escape the fact that this movie is blatantly just selling merchandise to unsuspecting kids. Yeah, family movies tend to do that and market some kind of product, but this is shameless. Transformers as a brand isn’t as blatant with its advertising as this movie is, with each of the new characters getting new outfits, vehicles, and playsets to solve various problems. Buy them today kids! Or rather, but them today parents! If you don’t then you’ll get a migraine from your screaming kids!
I could be fine with the advertising since I know that most family movies nowadays attempt this, but it’s so clinical about the proceedings. Conflicts and problems are generated to feed a runtime that’s already shuffling across the finish line. The scuba dog (I’m fairly certain his name is only said once) does nothing the entire film until a situation is contrived exclusively for him that makes no sense other than to give him something to do. It almost feels like a made-for-TV movie broken up into four parts that you could easily slide a commercial break into. But my boredom gave rise to some interesting questions.
Where do the Paw Patrol get their funding? Where in the world do they get the money to build these vehicles for rescue operations? Where are Adventure City’s tax dollars going to? Because it looks like all six of these dogs and their human handler are committing some type of embezzlement. Perhaps they charge an exorbitant fee for their services? Maybe they and Humdinger are in cahoots? How else can Chase, who is on the case, afford a police car that morphs into the Tumbler Batmobile? Also, what police department would have an armored vehicle deployed for any and all events? Is Adventure City a police state? (Ed Note. Yes)
It was either I ask these outlandish questions or I face the reality that Paw Patrol: The Movie has nothing going for it. There is no moral to this story. Chase, who I must remind you is on the case, is scared about being in Adventure City, but he gets over it. I wouldn’t really call that a moral because there is no adversity that he or the other dogs face. There’s a new, street smart dog that comes in to be the literal Scrappy-Doo of the gang, but her storyline basically goes “I want to be in the Paw Patrol” until their handler just kind of goes “Eh, why not” and gives her a car. Do you know I much I would love a car just for asking enough until people will just give it to me? Boy, I wish that’s how it worked in the real world.
The stakes are almost kind of elevated at the end of the movie where a weather machine decides to go all sky beam on Adventure City, and I will say that it’s in that final scene where that feature-length animation is shown off for the best. The climax looks good, and at least Nickelodeon Films put an actual budget behind this scene. I mean, the animation isn’t spectacular, but compared to the original show, it at least feels theatrical. It feels it, but the emotional core isn’t there. Paw Patrol: The Movie simply failed to engage me at all.
And before you DARE to point out the obvious, I KNOW I’m not the target demographic. Yeah, I’m not a toddler, but Paw Patrol: The Movie isn’t good entertainment. I can’t speak on behalf of the show, but I at least appreciate the concept of teaching kids about public services like the police, firefighters, and other jobs that are instrumental in keeping people safe. That’s a cool concept, but the movie just reeks of consumerism propaganda. A meaningless plot with arbitrary conflict to serve as a vehicle to sell toys to kids. This isn’t family entertainment. This is a babysitter for your kids when you need 90 minutes to yourself. It’s cute dogs and bright colors that distract rather than enrich.
Do you know what other movies are rated G? Wall-E, The Secret of Nimh, Beauty & the Beast, The Sound of Music, and all of the early Muppets movies. All of those movies have much more to say, have better plots, can be enjoyed by anyone, and are generally superior movies. Those are enriching films that can help childhood development as opposed to Paw Patrol: The Movie, which is just corporate junk food that doesn’t want to help kids develop, but instead sells them toys that they’ll forget about in a month or two at best. This might not be the worst movie of the year, but it definitely pissed me off the most out of any of them.