Directed by: Cal Brunker
Written by: Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen, Shane Morris
Starring: Mckenna Grace, Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin, Christian Convery, Kim Kardashian, James Marsden
Released: September 21, 2023
Grade: B

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie

Having never watched an episode of PAW Patrol in my life, I had to do extra background reading to prepare myself for this experience.  Many parents will already know but the franchise was created by a British television writer, Keith Chapman, and is produced by a toy/entertainment company headquartered in Toronto, Canada.  The first TV episode aired in 2013 and, with over 230 shows created, it’s become one of the longest-running animated series in history (though still a fair way behind The Simpsons’ 750 episodes).

Pitched largely at preschoolers, the PAW Patrol brand has generated billions in revenue over the past decade.  Those dollars don’t come directly from the show… but rather the myriad of commercialisation opportunities which have since presented themselves.  It’s not just about fluffy toys.  There’s PAW Patrol craft sets, clothes, toothpaste, fruit snacks, birthday cakes, water bottles… whatever.  You name it, they’re probably selling it.  Even Sea World on the Gold Coast has a “PAW Patrol on Holiday” show where kids can meet their beloved heroes.

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie opens with a simple adventure which shows what these characters are about.  Led by a 10-year-old boy, Ryder, a group of fast-growing puppies rescue two humans from an out-of-control fire in their hometown of Adventure City.  Each dog has a separate role to play (e.g. policing, constructing) and, to borrow from the series’ website, it’s a “fun way to learn bravery and heroism, with exciting stories that never get too scary.”

With the movie offering more time for plot and character development (it’s 92 minutes as opposed to the 22-minute TV shows), we’re then introduced to a new villain.  Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) voices Vee Vance who is described as “the maddest scientist in the world”.  Her plan is to create a giant magnet, bring meteors down to earth, and use mined alien technology to generate superpowers.  It sounds convoluted but, for the most part, it’s easy to follow and that’s exactly what 5-year-old kids will seek.

I am clearly not in the target demographic, but I can respect PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie for what it delivers.  The characters are cute, the dialogue is simple, and the themes are noble.  I’m sure if I was a pre-teen again, this is the story of harmless stuff I’d lap up.  The bright colours and flashy animation also make it a winner in maintaining kids’ attention.

Serving as an unconnected sequel to a successful-enough 2021 film (which I didn’t see), PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is simple and effective… and brand-building.