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PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE review – Deep Thoughts About Talking Puppies Who Drive Cars

Title: PAW Patrol: The Movie
Director: Cal Brunker
Starring: Iain Armitage, Marsai Martin, Ron Pardo, Yara Shahidi, Kim Kardashian West, Randall Park, Dax Shepard, Tyler Perry, Jimmy Kimmel, and Will Brisbin
Movie length: 1 hour 26 minutes

Full disclosure – I am probably the worst person in the world to review PAW Patrol: The Movie. I’m a middle aged dude whose exposure to Paw Patrol amounts to seeing a kid wearing a Paw Patrol T-shirt. So, I brought my 2 ½ year old along to help me evaluate this film. As such, this review will consist of two parts; my thoughts and how much my sidekick liked it.

What happens when a 40 year old who has never seen Paw Patrol sees their movie: Paw Patrol is about a group of puppies who drive vehicles and help people. Each one takes on a public service profession (police dog, fire dog, construction, recycling?) and they are led by what appears to be a 12 year old boy. When a goofy guy who appears to be their long time nemesis is elected mayor, they have to leave the park-like area they live in and head to the big city to ‘help.’ This change in scenery provides a new environment for the puppies to save people in. Unfortunately, this also means the water rescue dog (who I’ve taken to calling Aquaman) is pretty much rendered useless (though he does get a minor hero moment during the final rescue).

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spin Master. © 2021 Paramount Pictures

I have to admit, Paw Patrol is renting space in my head. First off, these puppies talk and no one seems to think that’s a big deal.  The cats don’t talk, so I’d think people would be like “whoa, my cat doesn’t talk but these puppies can assure me that I’ll be safe!” How are these puppies remotely qualified to drive heavy vehicles? Even if you assume that dogs can drive, these are puppies! In the world of Paw Patrol, apparently there are no child labor laws. I’m always game for a little suspension of disbelief, so I can look past talking dogs who drive cars, but I refuse to be ok with their human boy leader driving. There’s no way that kid has a driver’s license. He even drives a big RV that would be a handful for many adults. I was also desperately wondering how these puppies afforded all of their cool equipment. Kudos to PAW Patrol: The Movie for providing a satisfying answer to that question.  

The plot also has my mind turned into knots. Once they get to the city, the Paw Patrol sets up in a huge tower base (somehow constructed during the driving montage over) that is not only way too big for a small group of puppies and a boy, but is also totally impractical. When they go out on missions, they have to drive their vehicles down a huge slide. It would speed up response times to park the cars on the ground floor. While the antagonist probably needed attending to (because he prefers cats?), it seemed odd to have these puppies going after the duly elected mayor of a town. Don’t get me wrong, I hate cats as much as the next guy who is allergic to them, and he really did suck as a mayor, but haven’t these puppies heard of democracy?

So yeah, I have to give Paw Patrol credit, it really got me thinking. But this movie wasn’t made for me, it is a G movie made for kids who like bright colors and friendly puppies. It was made for my daughter.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spin Master. © 2021 Paramount Pictures

Parker’s take: Like me, my daughter has never seen Paw Patrol. But unlike me, she was unconcerned with the deeper questions that plagued my viewing. She sat quietly during the entire run time and genuinely enjoyed Paw Patrol. There is literally nothing objectionable about this movie. The movie somehow creates plenty of situations where people could die (hence the need for rescue) without even a hint of scariness or peril. The bad guy is more of a goofball than a malevolent force. The colors are bright (there’s even a scene built around fireworks) and the action is kid friendly. When the puppies did their little trademark howl, she actually did it with them. If you can hold my daughter’s attention for an hour and a half, you deserve some recognition.

Conclusion: If you can avoid thinking too much about how young dogs can drive heavy equipment and the ethics of putting these dogs in life threatening situations, you should be able to tolerate seeing Paw Patrol with your puppy loving child who is begging you to take them to this film. I even found myself laughing a few times. Ultimately, it’s a harmless movie that will either leave no impression on you or provoke a host of questions that can keep your mind busy while your kid marvels at the new dog that is introduced in this movie.

If you’d like to hear Tracey Peyton’s and I review of this epic movie, check out you can listen to the latest episode of Through The Lens here: https://anchor.fm/darren-shulman/episodes/Paw-Patrol-The-Movie-Review-e165qbt

Score: Darren B-, Parker A

PAW Patrol: The Movie is now playing in theaters and on the Paramount+ streaming service.

Do you plan to watch it? Have you already? Let us know in the comments or chat with me on Twitter!

If you’d like to write opinion pieces about pop culture topics or reviews, reach out to us using the contact us form.

Darren Shulman
Darren Shulman
Darren is a professional lawyer and amateur movie/comic/TV reviewer who is lucky enough to have found a wife who is into the same geeky things he is. Darren has been making the trip from Ohio to San Diego Comic-Con since 2009. Other interests include, in no particular order: monkeys, LEGO, dinosaurs, and playing basketball poorly.

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