Suggesting that its heroes may not have their claws firmly on the cultural pulse, the second Paw Patrol movie comes complete with a superhero makeover, just as the wheels are starting to wobble on the whole comic-book movie enterprise for the first time in decades. But never fear, Ryder (Finn Lee-Epp) — the young boy who somehow funds and runs a large-scale rescue operation manned, or dogged, by pups who never grow old, can drive complex vehicles, and talk — and his Paw Patrol are here to save the day.
A loose remake of an extended 2018 episode of the hugely successful and influential kidnip, The Mighty Movie sees co-writer and director Cal Brunker shine the spotlight on the team's smallest member, Skye (Mckenna Grace). This might annoy fans of other Paw Patrol pups like Rubble and Chase, who was the focus of the first Paw Patrol movie back in 2021 (and don't even get Everest fans started; that pup is conspicuous by her absence), but it allows Brunker to crank out the ‘the magic was inside you all along' clichés as Skye comes to embody the Paw Patrol mutto, “No job too big, no pup too small.” What truly surprises is that, in amongst all the blandishments, Brunker hits upon some actual pathos. Little kids will find much to connect with in this tale of furry empowerment.
The film's larger budget is reflected in some genuinely impressive visuals and action sequences.
Elsewhere, the film's larger budget is reflected in some genuinely impressive visuals and action sequences, a world away from the plastic sheen of the TV show; and while it's not a laughfest, there are some decent gags for the grown-ups, capably delivered for the most part by cameoing celebs including Kristen Bell, James Marsden and Kim Kardashian. That is, if they haven't been replaced by British actors.
Which is all well and good in the case of the Paw Patrol and Ryder themselves — it's standard puperating procedure for them to be voiced by Brits, some of whom are even capable of sounding like they're not just reading the words aloud for the first time — but in certain cases, the egregious practice of randomly assigning characters to a British guest star fails completely. We love Sir Trevor McDonald — who doesn't? — but hiring a guy in his eighties to voice a newsreader character clearly written for a much younger man (Lil Rel Howery) is not an approach that's going to winalot of fans, no matter how great his pedigree, chum.