PAW Patrol: The Movie
Dir: Cal Brunker
Cast(Voices): Iain Armitage, Lilly Bartlam, Will Brisbin, Ron Pardo
Nickleodian’s animated Adventure series (on TV since 2013), the Canadian merchandise friendly “PAW Patrol” gets a big-screen incarnation and its quite a rollicking fun ride for the tiny tots and adults( if you go in with the right mindset). It’s not high-brained stuff but it’s extremely engaging and entertaining.
For an audience not quite clued in to the TV series, the plot headlines a boy named Ryder (Will Brisbin), the human leader of a group of adorable puppies; Marshall (Kingsley Marshall), Skye (Lilly Bartlam), Rubble (Keegan Hedley), Rocky (Callum Shoniker), Zuma (Shayle Simons) and Chase (Iain Armitage) – each with a special set of talents, a Transformer-like vehicle – and a rhyming catch-phrase that has a lasting imprint on childhood memory. Every episode has an audacious rescue to accomplish and it’s all about daring-do, courage and teamwork. In this movie there’s more than one rescue mission (obviously) but the main theme is about a corrupt Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) attempting to turn the bustling Adventure City into a state of chaos, being brought-to-book by Ryder and the pups.
Marsai Martin voices the latest addition, Liberty, a city dog and PAW Patrol fan girl who calls in the heroic patrol when Humdinger, in a faulty attempt at arrogant flamboyance, sets-off all the inaugural celebration fireworks at once, just after sucking out clouds with the help of an analytic cloud machine. Jimmy Kimmel voices newscaster Marty Muckraker, Yara Shahidi is a climate scientist, Dax Shepard and Randall Park are Humdinger`s slap-happy bickering henchmen, Tyler Perry is a truck driver who needs a rescue, Kim Kardashian West is a pampered poodle and Adam Levine lends harmonious support on the soundtrack.
It’s all so wildly imaginative and smoothly visualized that you can’t help but like what transpires on screen. The puppies are cute and varied enough to cater to individual child tastes. The main theme of PAW Patrol has been about young characters (pups and their boy leader) triumphing in a grown-up world of mishaps and mayhem. There’s even woof-woof talk about one of the PAW Patrol heroes experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. The villain is presented as a mulish, egotistical, election-rigging big city boss (appears to have been generically modeled on a former country head) who builds the tallest superstructure just so that he can look down on common folk. No prizes for guessing that he also refuses to listen to experts or scientists. That’s not so much of a wild take…is it?
Brunker and his co-writers Bob Barlen and Billy Frolick deliver a multilayered story, told with swift efficiency and acute simplicity. The animation is colorful and amiable and dialogues are so easily understood that even a toddler of 6 would enjoy everything that transpires on screen. A really kid-friendly exercise in movie making, this!