Curmudgeonly comedian W.C. Fields may have warned his peers never to act with dogs or children. But the combination has proved a highly successful one-on both the small and big screen-for the franchise that gets an extension with the spirited cartoon adventure “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie ” (Paramount).
A decade after premiering on the Nickelodeon channel and two years out from their film debut, the titular group of canine first responders, led by a preteen boy called Ryder (voice of Finn Lee-Epp), returns for another round of derring-do and some fresh life lessons. This time out, moreover, the pups find themselves endowed with a variety of superpowers.
Their new abilities are derived from the magical meteor scheming mad scientist Victoria Vance (voice of Taraji P. Henson), who succeeds in diverting to Earth by means of a giant magnet. Although jailed for her exploit, Vance continues to hatch nefarious plots, and gains an ally in the person of the patrol’s longtime nemesis, corrupt politician Humdinger (voice of Ron Pardo).
Her head turned by her enhanced capabilities, the ensemble’s pilot, Skye (voice of Mckenna Grace), momentarily forgets the importance of teamwork. Instead of playing her part in a shared effort to bring Vance down, Skye sets out to thwart the astronomer on her own, with predictably disastrous results.
Returning director and co-writer Cal Brunker and his script collaborator Bob Barlen intersperse the lively action with a touching backstory about the challenges of Skye’s early life as the runt of her litter. They also mix in a subplot about the newest addition to the squad, dachshund Liberty (voice of Marsai Martin).
Initially Liberty does not seem to have received a superpower. So, at Ryder’s request, she stays out of the strife with Vance and Humdinger and occupies her time training the Junior Patrollers, a trio of aspiring rescuers. A reluctant mentor at first, Liberty eventually bonds with her charges and takes to the task of coaching them with growing enthusiasm.
Director and co-writer Cal Brunker recently shared with animationscoop.com how he wanted to create a family film that would be ‘bigger’ than the original Paw Patrol film.
“When we decided to make “PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie”, we knew we wanted to amp things up even more than we did on the first movie. We wanted to make a big fun movie that everyone had to go see on the big screen,” he said.
“This sequel has bigger action sequences, more special effects, and the overall look of the movie is even better than the first one. Alongside all that big action, we wanted to make sure that we were still telling an emotional story of one character’s journey that would resonate with our audience.”
Brunker also picked out Mckenna Grace’s ‘emotional’ performance as Skye. ”When we cast Mckenna Grace as Skye, we knew we needed a performer who could carry the full emotional range of Skye’s story. From comedy to heartfelt moments, Mckenna was always willing to give her all. She also wrote and recorded “Bark To The Beat”, an original song for the movie,” he said.
Like its predecessor, this sequel is too potentially frightening to be appropriate for the smallest filmgoers. All others, though, will find its proceedings both wholesome and winning.
Picture: Christian Convery as “Chase,” Finn Lee-Epp as “Ryder,” Callum Shoniker as “Rocky,” Marsai Martin as “Liberty,” and McKenna Grace as “Skye,” right, are pictured in the animated movie “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie (OSV News photo/Paramount Pictures)