Paw Patrol: The Movie [Grade: A-]

Director: Cal Brunker

Story By: Billy Frolick, Cal Brunker, & Bob Barlen

Cast: Marsai Martin, Iain Armitage, Ron Pardo, Will Brisbin, Yara Shahidi, Kingsley Marshall, Keegan Hedley, Callum Shoniker, Shayle Simons, Lilly Bartlam, & Jimmy Kimmel

* * *

I have never watched a Paw Patrol episode in my life, but it was performing so well at the box office and was available on Paramount Plus, so I figured I’d check it out…and I am glad I did. It definitely caught me by surprise. 

Now it’s not Pixar deep, but it’s developmentally deep when looking at its target demographic, and just a cute ass movie with a clear and solid story. 

* * *

Below are my grades for key components in #PawPatrolTheMovie that I find to be key in any story/film/series—Theme, Plot, Pacing, and Character Arc/Development. 

Additionally, I have added an entertainment factor scale to help you determine whether or not the film is something you’d be interested in taking time out of your weekend, evening, or day to watch. **NEW: I have broken the scale down by audience.  The scale range consists of: Worth the Watch/$$$, Interesting Enough (if looking for something new to start), Wait for Streaming, Don’t Rush, & Don’t Watch.

I have also added a few non-spoiling thoughts, wonderings, and comments as I watched the film to help give some rationale for my grades and entertainment scale.

* * *

Theme: A

Plot & Story: A-

Pacing: A

Character Arc/Development: B

* * *

Entertainment Factor Scale

General Public: Don’t Rush

Animation Lovers: Worth the Watch/$$$

Families w/ Young Children: Worth the Watch/$$$

Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Rush

* * *

TAKEAWAYS:

1. I had such a groupie moment when it hit me that Marsai Martin was the voice of Liberty. I literally screamed, cheesed, and clapped. She was so good. 😩🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

2. The story is somewhat simple, but really cute and well executed. What we have is a team of puppies who are the first responders in emergencies called to save a city suddenly under the control of a rogue, narcissistic mayor.

As someone who has never watched an episode of Paw Patrol, I appreciated Act One introducing viewers (specifically new viewers) to our protagonists in a quick and clear way, laying the foundation to our setting and the very specific tacit consenting laws that played a role in moving our plot, and introducing us to our antagonist and the history he had with our team of puppies. 👍🏾👍🏾

Act Two does a great job with bringing in the layer of conflict for one particular puppy which helped to really drive the theme of the story and also add texture to what could’ve simply been an extended episode. 👍🏾👍🏾

My only issue is that I feel Act Two could’ve been a little tighter with the conflict to better support the character arc. All it would’ve taken is each location being a memory of a past experience, and that would’ve tied things together. 🥴

3. I also had a groupie moment once I realized that our scientist was Yara Shahidi! Again, literally screamed and cheesed hard as hell. She also did such a great job. 👍🏾👍🏾

4. ALSO, to continue with the praise from points 1 and 3, nice job to Tyler Perry as well! 👍🏾👍🏾

5. The messaging that definitely stood out with this film was around “Teamwork” and also around this idea that we don’t have to get through/deal with things alone. 

Acts Two and Three do a great job carrying this both themes out well via the puppy Chase and his relationship with Ryder, as well as the role of Liberty, and the usual activities with the rest of the Paw Patrol. 

Act One sets the tone with the “Teamwork” theme that is woven throughout the film. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

6. The cinematography was so nice and smooth. 👍🏾

7. Rubble was SO hilarious and adorable! 🥰

8. The character arc was not the strongest. It wasn’t terrible, but it just lacked a few more minutes of thought. I think it was a great and critical idea to think about traumatic experience in the context of an animal as the conflict. However, the followthrough was a little shaky. 🥴

Yes, we get that the context/setting was the overall trigger, but as I paid attention to this particular puppy in the background there wasn’t anything that indicated a shift in his overall affect and feelings about where he was and why he was there. So for me, it didn’t really make sense that this animal who has done this work for so long suddenly couldn’t execute tasks—there literally wasn’t any specific reason once in the overall space of the trauma to pinpoint the triggers for this puppy. Hence why I made the suggestion in my point about the plot. 🤷🏾‍♂️

9. The road trip scene was also so cute, funny, and a whole subtle kee. Every action felt so real. 😩🥰

10. Every time they suited up and got in their wheels, I started humming the Power Rangers Zeo theme. 🤷🏾‍♂️😂

11. The pacing was quite fun, and everything felt intentional. The film moved well, the jokes were cute and appropriately placed, and the addition of Liberty’s story as well as following this narcissistic mayor helped with keeping your attention with the story. 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾

* * *

Overall, #PawPatrolTheMovie gives Fox’s 9-1-1 – meets Power Rangers – meets Cats & Dogs. 

There are quite a few strengths of this film, but I think one that stands out most for me is with the casting. I mean EVERY actor came on and put on a performance that seemed like they had children in mind; especially after watching Vivo, I could really feel the difference in the youthfulness and energy/vibrancy of the film and story. This movie made me smile, and it made me feel good because I could feel that child-spirit and purpose. 

It was definitely a very pleasant surprise.

Now I will say they can do a better job with representation on the Paw Patrol, and not being so gender specific with colors… 

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