PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie (2023, dir. Cal Brunker)

by | Oct 11, 2023

Certificate: U

Running Time: 92 mins

UK Distributor: Paramount Pictures

UK Release Date: 13 October 2023

WHO’S IN PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE?

Mckenna Grace, Taraji P. Henson, Marsai Martin, Christian Convery, Kim Kardashian, North West, Saint West, Chris Rock, James Marsden, Kristen Bell, Finn Lee-Epp, Ron Pardo, Lil Rel Howery, Serena Williams, Alan Kim, Brice Gonzalez, Luxton Handspiker, Christian Corrao, Callum Shoniker, Nylan Parthipan, Kim Roberts

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Cal Brunker (director, writer), Bob Barlen (writer), Laura Clunie, Jennifer Dodge and Toni Stevens (producers), Pinar Toprak (composer), Ed Fuller (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

The heroic canine group PAW Patrol acquires some mighty new superpowers…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON PAW PATROL: THE MIGHTY MOVIE?

Honestly, there’s nothing hugely wrong with PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie. As a narrative for very young children, it’s as harmless as the hugely popular TV show it’s based on, with nice animation that parents can admire while their kids are easily distracted. It has some decent morals, cute and likeable characters, and every once in a while, there’ll even be a mildly funny joke that viewers both young and old can giggle at. It’s by no means top-tier family entertainment, nor is it close to being one of the year’s top animated films, but as a time-filler for easily excitable children and exhausted mums and dads, it’s perfectly fine.

But there’s one thing about this movie that really, really drags it down… and it seems to only be something that UK audiences such as myself are being subjected to, which made the movie so much more annoying to sit through than it otherwise is.

Before we get into that, let’s briefly discuss the plot: a sequel to the successful 2021 spin-off movie, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie shows our band of heroic talking dogs – including Chase (Christian Convery), Marshall (Christian Corrao), Skye (Mckenna Grace) and Liberty (Marsai Martin) – and their human leader Ryder (Finn Lee-Epp) still helping out in Adventure City. One day, evil scientist Victoria Vance (Taraji P. Henson) creates a device that sends a meteor crashing into the city, which contains magical crystals that grant the pups superpowers which conveniently match their expertise: Skye, the team’s aviator, can now fly, the cop pup Chase has super-speed, firefighter Dalmatian Marshall can shoot fireballs out his paws, and so on. Rebranding themselves as “the Mighty Pups”, the team puts their new powers to good use, but Vance soon teams up with the PAW Patrol’s archnemesis Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) to nab the crystals for themselves, forcing the Mighty Pups into action.

It’s much more of a standard superhero film this time around, with a bit more action and suspense that you can find in the most basic Marvel movie. For younger viewers, particularly those who may be too young to be taken to those (slightly) more grown-up superhero movies, that shouldn’t be a massive problem, for there’s plenty of fast-moving images and fun displays of superpowers that should easily capture their imagination, as well as keep their eyes constantly glued to the screen. Meanwhile, older viewers can appreciate the smooth and colourful animation which, as with its predecessor, has been granted a much higher budget than the original TV show, allowing for imagery that is surprisingly epic in scope (not something I ever expected to say about a PAW Patrol movie).

You can certainly poke holes into the plot from all angles, and harp on poor decisions made by characters later on that give reason for the third act to kick into gear, but as someone who is very much not the target audience for this movie, I’m not going to complain that hard about something aimed directly at children. And yes, I know that’s not an excuse for flimsy writing, but I can think of other movies that are far more adult-centric which are much, much worse written than this one is, so by comparison this one isn’t so bad.

What is bad, however, are the misguided choices made for the UK dub of this movie, which took me out of the movie every single time certain characters opened their mouths. For whatever reason, the filmmakers decided to dub over much of the dialogue with (I presume) the voice actors from the UK version of the show, which in some respects I can see why they’d do such a thing because young children over here might be confused if their favourite characters suddenly spoke in different accents.

However, the voices they got for this dub often do not match the mouths they’re meant to sync up to; for instance, Ryder, the 10-year-old human who leads the PAW Patrol, now sounds like he’s at least ten years older, because they got someone who’s not even attempting to sound like a pre-pubescent boy play a character who is very much supposed to be a child in this universe. If you have to dub over a particular voice with a UK actor, that’s fair enough, but why would you cast someone that does not at all sound right for this particular part? For me, it got to a point where whenever this “kid” spoke, I was having to control my own unintentional laughter from how impressively mismatched these voices could get.

But the chaos of the UK dub doesn’t stop there. As in the previous film, there are quite a number of celebrity voices credited in the film, including Mckenna Grace who is meant to be voicing the main character Skye, to Lil Rel Howery as a news reporter, to tennis icon Serena Williams who has maybe one line of dialogue, but many of them are, once again, dubbed over by UK actors who have nowhere near as much enthusiasm as the original voices.

Some of them remain intact, like Taraji P. Henson (probably the best part of this movie, as you can tell she is having an utter blast in the recording booth) and even Kim Kardashian as a very Kardashian-like poodle, but you can very much tell who has been mercilessly replaced, especially when the original voice actors are still listed in the end credits. In the previous PAW Patrol film, they at least had the decency to keep the UK voices limited to the core characters from the show, whereas here it’s somewhat disrespectful to the numerous original voice actors as well as the audience, who can blatantly spot when certain people just don’t sound right.

Taking all that away for just a moment, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is a completely harmless family movie that young children will enjoy perfectly fine. However, when you put it back in, it suddenly becomes a distracting, and unintentionally funny, mess of a dub that taints an otherwise inoffensive movie.

SO, TO SUM UP…

PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie is a harmless and perfectly fine family movie that has decent moral for younger viewers as well as smooth animation for adults, but UK audiences beware: the out-of-control dub renders it a distracting and unintentionally funny mess.

Three out of five stars

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