NEW YORK (OSV News) – 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 folks behind the franchise that gets an extension with the spirited cartoon adventure “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” (Paramount).
A decade after premiering on Nickelodeon 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) 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 enseble’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.
Like its predecessor, this sequel is too potentially frightening to be appropriate for the smallest moviegoers. All others, though, will find its proceedings both wholesome and winning.
The film contains explosions and scenes of peril. The OSV News classification is A-I — general patronage. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.