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Paw Patrol is a nearly perfect work of children’s media

Progressive critics dislike it, but this is an exceptional film adaptation of a wonderful series that promotes teamwork, courage, and using one’s talents for the good of all.

Ascene from the animated movie "PAW Patrol: The Movie." (CNS photo/Spin Master, Paramount Pictures)

MPAA Rating: G
CNS Rating: A-I
Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 reels

From the moment I heard a Paw Patrol movie was headed to theaters, I knew it would be a special cinematic event. After all, one of my kids is sleeping under a Paw Patrol comforter as I write this review (the others are Animal Crossing and Batman, if you’re curious). It had been nearly two years since my entire family had gone to the theater, and the timing could not have been better. The experience was everything I hoped for and more. The kids had a great time, and it didn’t hurt that the movie was amazing as well.

If you not familiar with the worldwide phenomena, Paw Patrol is a Canadian animated television series about six anthropomorphic puppies who form a rescue team. There is a cop, a firefighter, a construction worker, a sailor, a ranger, and a helicopter pilot, each with their own unique personality and breed. In their first movie, the pups leave the safety of Adventure Bay to rescue the civilians in the big city from the ill-fated plans of Mayor Humdinger (Ron Padro) to remake the metropolis in his own image. This includes a poorly planned fireworks show, a haphazard roller coaster subway, and an unsteady, gold encrusted skyscraper called “Humdinger Tower.”

Yet this all proves too much for the leader of the group Chase (Max Calinescu), the German Shepherd police dog. He was abandoned in the city as newborn, and the trauma of these memories affect his performance. When Ryder, the Paw Patrol’s human master, suggests he take some time off, Chase is worried the team doesn’t want him anymore. Fortunately, this is a kid’s movie, so the stakes are never too high and everything will work out by the end.

Paw Patrol, both as a series and film, is a nearly perfect work of children’s media. First, there are the canine characters themselves. Any pre-school age child—regardless of race, sex, or class—will identify with at least one of the pups. They are all basically good but never perfect, making mistakes both moral and professional, and learning from them in the process. The visuals are fun and flashy but never oppressive or overwhelming. Best of all, the humor is enjoyable without being either too cheesy or too adult. Upon seeing their new high-tech base in Adventure City, Rubble the construction bulldog asks Ryder, “How do you pay for this?” Ryder smiles, “With Paw Patrol merchandise, it sells like hotcakes!” This is incredibly refreshing compared to the constant sexual and scatological humor of DreamWorks or other animation studios.

The best children’s productions not only entertain but give moral instruction in a natural, organic manner. Chase’s experiences mirror genuine PSTD, complete with Vietnam-style flashbacks. His problems are handled with sensitivity but also bluntness. I was reminded of Fred Rogers, who, when dealing with divorce or terrorism in the news, always responded to kids with kindness but also directness. Ryder affirms Chase’s value on the team, saying he was “born to be a hero.” Indeed, his past experiences highlight give him to courage to help others. Every human (or puppy) is created by God and loved by Him. This is what gives us worth and should shape us, not our fears or social situations.

Paw Patrol is an exceptional film adaptation of a wonderful series that promotes teamwork, courage, and using one’s talents for the good of all. Which is why I was flabbergasted to find some media critics despise—even downright hate—this series. The Guardian attacked it as authoritarian for glorifying a private company over state officials. Medium claimed it was misogynist because only one of the six pups was female and wore pink. Vulture declared it the worst kids show on television.

The criticism became so widespread The Babylon Bee even featured a satirical piece suggesting Nickelodeon had replaced Chase with Karl, an antifa riot dog. In short, because it promotes a normal worldview in line with classic Judeo-Christian ethics and not a modern left-wing agenda, it must go. Fortunately, this seems to only be coming from the left-wing intelligentsia and not actual viewers, so government officials won’t be breaking down doors to steal Marshall the Fire Dog toys just yet.

The Paw Patrol movie is a fantastic film for anyone in the 2–10 year-old bracket, and it is minimal in its annoyance of parents: truly a treasure to behold. It continues to get high ratings from the box office and families alike (a 97% approval rating from audiences at the Rotten Tomatoes site). Thus, there is little fear that Mayor Humdinger or AOC will be getting rid of these adorable pups anytime soon.


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About Nick Olszyk 162 Articles
Nick Olszyk teaches theology at Marist Catholic High School in Eugene, Oregon. He was raised on bad science fiction movies, jelly beans, and TV shows that make fun of bad science fiction movies. Visit him online at his website, Catholic Cinema Crusade.

2 Comments

  1. I worked for bookstores throughout my life, including all four of the majors — Waldenbooks, B Dalton, Borders, and B&N. Barnes & Noble is the only one now extant. I recently quit my part time job there in no small part because of childrens’ books, including board books, that targeted children with what can only be identified as adult material. The sexual underpinnings can not possibly be processed by a child and should not be in their view. I would not have offered or displayed them if I had any say. So I was surprised by this PAW PATROL article. I had seen the books and toys and how hugely popular they were with kids but knew nothing of the world it offered to them. Thank you for that. It is said that you can know someone by their enemies and so it is with this new movie of the show. I went online and checked Rotten Tomatoes. The negative reviews were not surprising, merely depressing. But I was surprised that the New York Times gave it a good review! I also worked in book publishing in New York in the 1980s and am not all that surprised by news coming out of these now consolidated mega-publishers. I hate to imagine what the next generation of their childrens’ publishing programs will look like. I have developed an appreciation for picture books artists. See Jane Yolen’s OWL MOON for example, illustrated by the late John Schoenherr(whose extraordinary artistry and aliens appeared on Analog Science Fiction and pb book covers when I was a boy). So many of illustrators and writers now promote what can only be seen as a cultural and political putsch in America. Never has childrearing required more intention than today. Taken nothing for granted. Review everything they bring home from school. If necessary, be that teacher or parent who loudly testifies at a school board meetings about CRT indoctrination. Sex is the another teachers’ union and school board campaign. No surprise that predators roam schools, public and private. Read about what has happened with the Harlem Boys Choir, the Westminster Cathedral boys choir (Archdiocese of Southwark, England) and elsewhere.

  2. I remember six years ago attending a Catholic youth conference in Montreal, with my wife and then two year old son along for the ride. Our son spent a lot of time watching Paw Patrol, and my wife and I playfully made a list of all the most annoying things about the show, to share with other parents. Indeed, the TV show dialogue, gags, and storylines are awfully repetitive, and I’ve wished for a little more depth, just for the sake of the parents who have to watch the episodes over and over. At the same time, it was always easy to see why my children have liked it so much. It’s cute, the good guys win, and there’s even really important lessons about reconciliation and compassion (for example, the pups don’t take revenge on their foes; they often end up saving them, engaging in some gentle restorative justice — having them clean up their mess).

    The thing is… I was looking forward to watching the movie because I knew how much my kids would like it. But I was expecting it to have the same lame dialogue and tired gags as the TV show. I figured I’d find it cute the first time, but probably wouldn’t be looking forward to a repeat performance (or more like dozens of them). I wasn’t expecting it to be a really great movie, which it was!

    The dialogue was a lot snappier, the characters had more emotional depth (especially Chase). As the review said, the depiction of PTSD in the movie, though child friendly (if such a thing is possible) was accurate. I felt emotional — I even cried a couple of times, and I laughed out loud.

    And, of course, just like the show, there was nothing even mildly inappropriate, rude or suggestive. This is a safe movie to show your kids, and I think parents will enjoy it too.

    A bit of a response to some of the critics… yes, in the movie, only one of the main dog characters is female, although a new female dog joins the crew and is one of the main characters. There is also another dog, also a female, who is often part of the show, and was left out of the movie. The mayor of the pups’ hometown of Adventure Bay, Mayor Goodway, is a woman with dark skin (who had only a minor role in the movie). So there are more female characters in the Paw Patrol franchise who could have been featured in the movie, and weren’t, but I understood the need to make the movie flow better, and that it was impossible to feature all the characters. As the Paw Patrol appears to have the full backing of the Adventure Bay government, and as Adventure City appears to have elected a mayor who rigged an election and is dismissing the advice of civil servants (one of whom is working closely with the Paw Patrol to try to save the city), I don’t completely get the public vs. private argument… and, as I said, this isn’t really a law and order sort of thing. The bad guys usually admit their wrongdoing, help to clean up their mess, and are offered forgiveness. And there aren’t any weapons involved, either… someone could easily make the argument that this is a very progressive children’s show in certain ways, but ways that I think that Catholics can also appreciate.

    Anyway, that’s all my rambling thoughts thus far… the short version is this: Paw Patrol: The Movie, is a movie the whole family can feel good about.

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