While many franchises aimed at children smuggle in some adult-appeal added-value — you know! for parents! — “Paw Patrol” is not one of them. The adventures of the squad of anthropomorphized rescue puppies, set in the environs of Adventure Bay, are entirely toddler-friendly and irony-free.
In segments on TVs or tablets, these anodyne tales are effective babysitters. In a movie theater, they require adult oversight. To its possible credit, “Paw Patrol: The Movie” (also streaming on Paramount+) shrugs off this reality and offers only a few feeble internet-mocking japes for the entertainment of grown-ups.
Yes, the computer-generated colors, overseen by the director Cal Brunker, are bright, the pups have soulful eyes (they include a newbie, named Liberty, a street-smart dog eager to join the team, which would add another female to the boy-heavy crew, yay), and the story line — in which the megalomaniacal Mayor Humdinger hijacks a cloud-storage machine to ensure blue skies over Adventure City (it’s near the bay) while the head pup Chase undergoes a crisis of confidence — is, um, a story line.
To pass the time, viewers over the age of 6 may ponder some questions. Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage) hates Adventure City, where he was abandoned as a young pup. He was adopted and trained by Ryder (Will Brisbin), the little human who I guess you could call the Patrol’s Nick Fury. And Chase remains a pup, as do his colleagues. Is Adventure Bay the opposite of M. Night Shyamalan’s beach that makes you old, only for dogs? Also: The streets of Adventure City are so immaculate that the Patrol could eat kibble off them. So while Mayor Humdinger is indeed a creep, surely someone in municipal government is doing something right, no?
By the time one has figured this stuff out, or not, the trim movie has ended, and the kids will have learned simple lessons about courage, team spirit and how it’s OK to fail every now and then, provided you have adequate backup.
Paw Patrol: The Movie
Rated G. Running time: 1 hour 28 minutes. In theaters and on Paramount+.
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