Canada’s beloved team of animated rescue dogs, better known as the Paw Patrol, are taking on bigger challenges and adventures in the new film, Paw Patrol: The Movie.
The 88-minute long film, based on the popular Canadian children’s television series Paw Patrol, is the first full-length feature film produced by Toronto-based toy and entertainment company Spin Master, with animation provided by Mikros Image based in Montreal.
Released on Friday, the movie is about “95 per cent Canadian-based,” director Cal Brunker told CBC News.
When asked how show compares to the movie, Brunker, who also directed the animated films Escape from Planet Earth and The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, said, “everything is much bigger.”
“The vehicles are cooler, there’s incredible rescues and it looks like big action movie stuff,” Brunker said.
Spin Master has created several other Paw Patrol productions, including an extended-length episode and the TV movie Ready Race Rescue, which aired in 2019.
After experimenting with longer specials, Jennifer Dodge — a producer on the movie and president of Spin Master Entertainment — said fans were ready for something bigger.
“[We realized] that the world we created and the characters could stand a longer story line,” said Dodge.
The film follows the team of do-good dogs led by 10-year-old Ryder — played by Alberta’s Will Brisbin — as they try to protect Adventure City from the Paw Patrol’s arch-nemesis, Mayor Humdinger.
Aside from some new characters like Liberty, a dachshund who helps the Paw Patrol on their mission, Brunker says children will recognize all their favourite pups.
But fans of the show may also notice that the dogs look more life-like. This is because the movie’s animation team in Montreal rebuilt the characters and environments using more advanced computer generated imagery (CGI).
“When we were taking the movie to the big screen, we wanted to give a theatrical experience,” said Brunker.
“The pups all have fur now. They’re completely familiar, but we’ve given them an incredible amount of detail.”
The movie, which is a collaboration between Spin Master, Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies, also features some celebrity voices.
Jimmy Kimmel plays the news anchor of Adventure City and Kim Kardashian voices a sassy poodle named Delores.
Canadian singer-songwriter Alessia Cara and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine also perform featured songs in the film.
“A lot of our cast members have kids who are Paw Patrol superfans,” said Brunker.
“So when we reached out, a lot of them wanted to do something that their kids could watch.”
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Movie aims to teach lessons about bravery, confidence
Dodge says the movie gives fans an opportunity to discover more about their favourite characters and to learn important lessons along the way.
“The main [lesson] is that no matter who you are, you can always dig deep and be there to help other people,” said Dodge.
“There’s a hero inside of all of us.”
Not all parents have been similarly impressed with Paw Patrol’s messages. In 2019, a criminology professor from Kings University College in London, Ont., told CBC News that his child wasn’t allowed to watch Paw Patrol because he felt it may “encourage complicity in a global capitalist system.”
In the show, the Paw Patrol is a private corporation, which the professor, Liam Kennedy, said sends a message to children that they can’t depend on the government to provide these services.
“I just think that as time goes on, children might be less likely to critique the capitalist system that causes environmental harm in the first place and reproduces inequality,” said Kennedy in an interview with CBC News.
WATCH | Is Paw Patrol sending a harmful message to children?
Brunker says that type of critique was the furthest thing from mind when creating the film.
“The movie is about what it means to be scared and how to overcome your fears,” said Brunker.
“With how the world is these days, this is an important lesson for kids to take in.”
Toy company to entertainment producer
Other critics have taken issue with the marketing, arguing the series “exists primarily to move toys,” and the high profitability of the toy franchise makes the film a “corporate fantasy come true.”
According to the Financial Post, toys and games based on the Paw Patrol series have generated millions of dollars in revenue for Spin Master, which was founded in 1994 as a toy company and launched its entertainment division in 2008.
The movie is accompanied by a new line of toys, including a metre-tall Paw Patrol city tower set that retails for $199.99.
Although not officially announced, Dodge says Spin Master will expand its movie franchise beyond Paw Patrol.
“We are in development for a slate of movies across several of our properties and brands,” said Dodge.
“This is the first of many movies to come from Spin Master Entertainment.”
Paw Patrol, which has been sold to TV networks in over 160 countries, first aired in 2013 and has been primarily broadcast on TVOKids. The show was renewed for its ninth season in February 2021, with new episodes set to release in September.