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Paw Patrol: The Movie | An Animated Film For Kids and Kids Only

Paw Patrol: The Movie is an adaptation of a popular TV show destined solely for die-hard fans (and their parents).

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As I went to the theater last weekend to attend an empty IMAX screening of Lisa Joy’s Reminiscence, I was shocked by how many people were inside the theater. It was the first time since 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that I saw a cinema this packed with families who were going to see a movie, especially on a hot and sunny Friday afternoon. Moviegoers were lined up at the concession stand; the arcade was full of children happily playing and enjoying an unfiltered version of life. This was a sign that the movies are indeed back. But what particular film drew a literal crowd akin to The Rise of Skywalker‘s opening weekend in mid-August? By now, most people had seen F9 and Black Widow, and while Free Guy is certainly entertaining for families, it may not be appropriate for small children. What movie was it? That’s right, PAW Patrol! If you were living in Montreal’s greater south shore region and wanted to see it in cinemas this weekend, heh, good luck trying! Most screenings were packed with families making their grand return to the movies after an 18-month long period of no theatrical experiences, and what better way to return to the place where all dreams are possible than watching an adaptation of a top-rated children’s TV show that contains the same aesthetic as the TV PAW Patrol with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and film stars instead.

If you aren’t a fan of the TV show (which probably means your age is above 6 years old), don’t bother. The film panders strictly to children who are well-versed in the world of PAW Patrol through a breezy animated adventure that won’t require much thinking nor any storytelling risks in the process. This feels more like a film to introduce young children to the art of moviegoing (and could potentially influence them to work in the industry, you never know) than anything else. I mean, put yourself in the mind of a 3-year old going to see a movie on a screen so immense with a bag of buttered popcorn ready to be whisked away to be a part of the latest PAW Patrol adventure. It’s immensely memorable and something they will never forget for the rest of their life, especially when this film introduces them to the art of the cinematic language. It’s not groundbreaking, by all means, but for them, it’ll be a masterpiece.

PAW Patrol: The Movie chronicles our titular characters’ fight against political corruption in Adventure City (not even joking) as they are tasked to stop the nefarious Mayor Humdinger (Ron Pardo) from destroying the city through a cloud-sucking weather device unleashing a week’s worth of bad weather and multiple instances of criminal negligence to fill his overtly petulant ego. It’ll be up to the PAW Patrol to regain control of the city and arrest the mayor for his crimes against the citizens of a rather peaceful place. And if you’ve seen any kids’ films with despots/egotistical politicians as its primary antagonist, then you’ll be glad to hear that PAW Patrol: The Movie is no different than the plethora of risk-free animated films being released on our screens these days.

Foreground: Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage) and Ryder (voiced by Will Brisbin). Background L-R: Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley), Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), and Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall) in PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spin Master.

I was surprised by how many positive reactions the film has gotten from professional critics, with many unironically calling it a sweet and lovable animated film. And while it certainly is quite lovable and carefree for children looking for pure escapism, PAW Patrol: The Movie isn’t anything groundbreaking, nor an animated film that’ll do any wonders for the medium. It exists purely as a commercial for kids that haven’t been introduced to the TV series and an accompanying piece of content for existing franchise fans. If you haven’t seen the show, don’t worry, the film does a decent job of contextualizing who the main characters are within its opening scene, which is the film’s most entertaining part. Tyler Perry voices a distressed truck driver carrying Canadian maple syrup, who has an accident trying to avoid a turtle on the road and gets rescued by the PAW Patrol. The comedic timing of the sequence is quite good, featuring bouts of humor adults will enjoy. But it’s after the film’s opening credits sequence where PAW Patrol: The Movie becomes strictly for young children looking to see a cinematic version of their favorite animated TV characters.

L-R: Chase (voiced by Iain Armitage), Rocky (voiced by Callum Shoniker), Skye (voiced by Lilly Bartlam), Zuma (voiced by Shayle Simons), Rubble (voiced by Keegan Hedley), and Marshall (voiced by Kingsley Marshall) in PAW PATROL: THE MOVIE from Paramount Pictures. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Spin Master.

This scene, alongside its surprisingly cinematic action sequences, which strangely recalls the work of Zack Snyder in Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, make PAW Patrol: The Movie a relatively easy film to watch, though it’s not anything spectacular. None of the protagonists are developed and stay inside the same cyclical character beats of the show. We know a bit more about Chase (Iain Armitage) compared to the film’s other characters, as he has a traumatic past life in Adventure City but not much else to clamor for. Most of his fears get resolved through two pep talks, with Ryder (Will Brisbin) and Skye (Lilly Bartlam), which are extremely surface-level, though that may be enough for young kids to find poignant and adults enjoy its messaging.

Unless you’re three years old, you’ve seen the film’s plot countless times before, where a group of lively protagonists will overcome faux adversity to defeat pure evil. This time around, the pure evil is Mayor Humdinger, an egotistical political force who does everything he can to serve himself and himself only while looking down at his population. Adult viewers will likely find the similarities between him and President Donald Trump (the movie never hides it). At the same time, kids may see Humdinger as an adult version of a high school bully who constantly plays the victim and flees the scene after harming people. It’s an interesting antagonist for a children’s film and one that could’ve worked if it was better developed and didn’t revert to endless clichés and familiar character traits.

But the problem is that writer/director Cal Brunker and his co-scribes Billy Brolick and Bob Barlen never go past clichés and familiar character traits. Some will say, “you’re judging a film made for three-year-olds too harshly,” which is a valid argument but riddle me with this. When I was three, we had legitimately intelligent kids programs like Sesame Street to not only educate us but raise awareness on the social issues of our time in a thoughtful life. Nowadays, kids seem to enjoy brainless entertainment without much thought on the values they’re learning, nor if they’re being educated by watching one episode per day. If we expose our kids to thoughtful stories as they grow up, they have a better chance of becoming more literate in society, not only through art but on the way they see the world. And while PAW Patrol: The Movie certainly has the makings of a thought-provoking animated film, it never wants to surpass audience expectations and pander to die-hard fans of a cyclical show that’ll never end.

Great animated movies go above and beyond fan pandering and craft a truly memorable story for kids and adults to enjoy, but this one has no interest in doing that. Instead, it presents a simple story with simple character development and simple resolution. Heck, the PAW Patrol resolve three similar situations (or strikes) brought by the Mayor before arresting him. Strike one gives us a first look at Chase’s fears, while strike two exalts them until strikes three finally sees Chase overcoming his fears through pure willpower and cinematic slow-motion. Minimal development equals minimal results and minimal entertainment. Of course, if you’re looking to introduce your child to the art of moviegoing through a purely carefree and escapist piece of entertainment that won’t require much thinking from children and will distract them for 88 minutes with popcorn and a large screen, then look no further. But if you’re looking for something more wondrous and imaginative for both children and adults, with values that are way more memorable than in anything eight years of PAW Patrol taught us, then you better watch Vivo on Netflix instead.

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PAW Patrol: The Movie is now playing in theatres and streaming on Paramount+

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Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

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Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

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Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

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Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

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Reviews

‘I Love You, Guys’ Review | A Poignant Exploration of Celebrity Vulnerability and Human Resilience

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We are living in an era where celebrities are worshipped like deities and sometimes, people forget that he or she is also a normal human being. If we feel happy or sad at certain moments, they do as well and even though a lot of people always surround them, they get vulnerable too. Although a lot of filmmakers forget to show that aspect of their lives, Billie Melissa Rogan takes the bold approach of showing the truth. Her directorial debut, ‘I Love You, Guys,’ is a poignant story about a celebrity fighting her inner self to maintain her celebrity image. The result is a stunning piece of art that resonates long after the end credits roll in.

The short film opens with a profound close-up of the young singing sensation named Sky (Becky Bush). She has made a name for herself by making and singing really exceptional songs. As a result, she is adored by her fans. Even though it feels like Sky has everything she wants, viewers see her submerged in a bathtub as she tries to battle her anxiety. Just then, Sky gets a phone that she’d be performing state-side. Now, that’s where we get to know about her vulnerable state for the first time. Although she says that she is really happy with the above-mentioned news, her face tells a different story. Despite her impending stardom, Sky has not started to feel the massive weight of mounting pressure, a sentiment audiences get to see in her conversations with bandmate Ryan (Pedro Leandro) and girlfriend Taylor (Celi Crossland).

Becky Bush in a still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

As the story moves forward, we get to know that ‘I Love You, Guys’ is about the fragile nature of the human spirit as much as it is about celebrity culture. It not only navigates themes of depression, it also highlights the turbulent emotional journey of Sky. One of the best aspects of the film is how Rogan masterfully brings Cory Varney’s screenplay to life. She managed to capture every minor detail of Sky’s emotions with utmost precision. Despite the fact that it is her first-ever film as a director, we get a sense that we are watching a flick helmed by a seasoned filmmaker.

Another aspect that makes this film such a compelling watch is its cinematography. Jenni Suitiala has done a phenomenal in showing expressions through vibrant colors and Rogan has made full use of the settings to give viewers a visually striking film. Whether it is heated arguments or silent moments of despair, each frame feels authentic and draws audiences into Sky’s personal life.

Apart from Rogan’s direction, Varney’s script is this film’s biggest strength. The writer has undoubtedly done a stunning job of showing the humanity of these characters. There’s a reason why Sky’s struggles feel very personal and it is because we have endured such moments in life. Moments where we doubt ourselves even when we know we are more than capable of doing a particular thing. Not every smiling person is happy. Sometimes he or she is smiling just so that no one finds out about the tough times they are going through.

A still from ‘I Love You, Guys’ (Jumpcut Studios)

Acting-wise, Becky Bush has given a performance that is surely going to open several doors for her. She delivers a magnificent performance by infusing Sky with a beautiful balance of vulnerability and strength. The way she manages to convey an innumerable amount of emotions is spectacular. I believe this is one of the most apt depictions of mental turmoil. Meanwhile, Pedro Leandro and Celi Crossland are just as spectacular. Every interaction between the characters feels genuine and nuanced.

All in all, ‘I Love You, Guys’ is a testament to how resilient a human spirit can be. In just 15 minutes, Rogan, Varney, and Bush take viewers on a journey that’s thought-provoking and talks about a subject that no one talks about. The writing, direction, and performances achieve a lot more than just viewers’ attention. The film offers a compelling examination of the human cost of pursuing fame and success. A poignant story that touches on themes of ambition, relationships, and self-discovery.

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