THE STORY – The PAW Patrol pups magically gain superpowers after a meteor strikes Adventure City. However, things take a turn for the worse when Humdinger and a mad scientist steal their powers and turn themselves into supervillains. As the team springs into action to save the city, Skye soon learns that even the smallest pup can make the biggest difference.
THE CAST – Mckenna Grace, Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin, Christian Convery, Kim Kardashian, North West, Saint West, James Marsden, Kristen Bell & Finn Lee-Epp
THE TEAM – Cal Brunker (Director/Writer) & Bob Barlen (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 92 Minutes
Now a decade old, “PAW Patrol” has had a lasting effect on kids, much in the same way “Blue’s Clues” or “Dora the Explorer” had a couple of decades earlier. After massive success on television, the pups ventured onto the big screen with 2021’s “PAW Patrol: The Movie,” which performed well at the box office despite being released on Paramount+ simultaneously. Now, the pups return in “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” this time exclusively in theaters. The story adapts elements from previous interactions of the show, specifically the “Mighty Pups” episodes and mini-movies. Adapting kids’ material like this into a theatrical release begs the question: is this just an extended episode or something genuinely deserving of the trip to the theater? While “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” might walk the fine line between the two, it ultimately transforms the show into a big-screen adventure that will satisfy all of the “PAW Patrol” lovers in your life.
The classic crew of pups are all back for “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie,” but their team is growing. Ryder (voiced by Finn Lee-Epp) is the human leader of the pups, which include Chase (Christian Convery), Rubble (Luxton Handspiker), Rocky (Callum Shoniker), Zuma (Nylan Parthipan), and Marshall (Christian Corrao). There’s also Skye (McKenna Grace), who truly gets the focus this time, showing the world what her earliest days were like. And then there’s Liberty (Marsai Martin), who joined the pups in “PAW Patrol: The Movie” and now has to try and find how she fits into the crew. As if that weren’t enough, Ryder has instituted a new Junior Patroller program to help get younger pups trained up to be future members of the PAW Patrol. Three little fuzzballs join the crew: Tot, Nano, and Mini.
Of course, what would a “PAW Patrol” movie be without an important mission and a dastardly villain to take down? Victoria “Vee” Vance (Taraji P. Henson) is a mad scientist (just don’t call her that to her face) determined to draw meteors to Earth using a gigantic magnet and gaining their special powers. While the pups stop her and send her to jail, she succeeds in bringing a meteor down to Earth, smashing into the Paw Patrol Tower in Adventure City. Despite the destruction, this is a good thing for the PAW Patrol, as the meteor cracks open, revealing seven special crystals that give each pup a superpower.
From here, the movie follows a reasonably generic superhero story. Vee teams up with the classic PAW Patrol villain, Mayor Humdinger, to escape from prison and steal the crystals from the pups. Of course, the pups need to stop them using their newfound Mighty powers. Standard as the story may be, writer-director Cal Brunker and co-writer Bob Barlen find ways to connect real emotions that kids might encounter to the pups. Much like “PAW Patrol: The Movie” explored Chase’s struggles with fear, Skye is frustrated at always being the smallest dog in the crew. We get glimpses of her past before she was in the PAW Patrol and how she was the runt of her litter. As “PAW Patrol” should, the emotions are crystal clear for young audiences to register, seeing that you can still make a difference no matter your size. This important lesson for kids is naturally woven within the broader plot, giving Skye her time to shine.
The super-powered action ups the game from the TV show, keeping in line with the elevated style of “PAW Patrol: The Movie.” It’s stylized enough to give the show a facelift without feeling like a completely different entity. Fun setpieces, including a giant Mayor Humdinger wreaking havoc on Adventure City, are thrilling enough for young viewers without being scary. The look and feel are certainly a step up from the show. However, there were a few moments of noticeably jittery or glitched animation, especially in one shot overlooking the ocean. Nevertheless, there’s enough improvement to the show that kids will be enthralled.
Does the distinction between theatrical and streaming matter when it comes to “PAW Patrol?” When numerous “PAW Patrol” mini-movies are available on Paramount+, the trip to the theater might seem unnecessary. While “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” will still play well with kids on the small screen, there’s enough big-screen action and loads of heart to help kids engage with their favorite pups on a whole new level. Whether it’s older kids who grew up with “PAW Patrol” or younger kids venturing to the theater for the first time, “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie” will thrill all ages.