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Paw Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue! review – 48 minutes in the pits

⭐⭐⭐

This barely feature-length spin-off from the TV cartoon takes our gang to the racetrack and sends them skidding into tedium.

Eyeing the finish line … Paw Patrol: Race, Ready, Rescue! Photograph: Paramount Pictures

They sure do churn em out. Here’s another episode of Nickelodeon’s animated TV show about a team of rescue dogs, jazzed up and padded out into a 48-minute cinema package. As a parent of a toddler, I’m not immune to Paw Patrol pester power. But I find the cinema outings soulless and depressing: three-year-olds disappearing into gawping trances, parents into the glow of their phones.

The new film feels like a cut-price knockoff of Pixar’s Cars, with a dull plot about a rally tournament where the star driver is a flashy but nice kid called the Whoosh (voiced by Joseph Motiki) and the Paw Patrol gang’s job is to crew the pitstop during the race. The villain is mega-sneaky racing driver Cheetah (Addison Holley), who introduces yet another irritatingly repetitive Paw Patrol catchphrase: “If you can’t beat ’em, cheat ’em!” When the Whoosh crashes out after being nobbled by Cheetah, firefighter pup Marshall (Lukas Engel) must take his place behind the wheel.

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Can Marshall dodge Cheetah’s dirty tricks and overcome his lack of confidence to take first place? All the usual believe-in-yourself, hard-work-wins messages apply, alongside some screechy tyre-burning action. But there’s zero here for adults: Paw Patrol is action with stabilisers, training little kids up for big kid bangs. It’s so aggressively targeted at pre-schoolers that in no sense can you call it a family movie. And parents who’ve forked out for a flashing Paw Patrol toothbrush may blow a piston at the running gag about the Whoosh being a walking product placement, constantly mugging for the camera in his own branded merch.

  • Paw Patrol: Ready, Race, Rescue! is released in the UK on 24 January.

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