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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Promotes tolerance, acceptance, teamwork, empathy, and courage for the greater good, as well as redemption, forgiveness, and moving forward after a mistake. The village learns to trust an outsider, work together, and defend themselves despite the odds.
Positive Role Models
Hank is brave and willing to learn. Jimbo is willing to take Hank under his tutelage as a samurai in training. Emiko is a brave young cat who wants to help defend her town.
Although the movie is about cats and (one) dog, the story has parallels about humans from different cultures or countries who experience discrimination when they are in the minority in a new place. Plays into clichés related to samurai and ninja culture.
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Violence & Scariness
Ika Chu sends waves of assassins, ninjas, and fighters to terrorize the villagers and threaten Hank. Homes are destroyed, and cats are injured. Big martial arts-style fights involve characters using weapons; a climactic battle sequence involves an overflowing giant toilet. Flashback to what starts as a menacing scene full of potential threats but ends up being a party. Comment about how a samurai accidentally spayed and neutered his boss's in-laws. Threats about how "curiosity kills cats."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Sumo-wrestling cat's butt cheeks are visible. Accidental cat nudity. A joking "you look hot." A quick kiss at a nightclub/party.
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Insult language includes "morons," "imbeciles," "selfish idiot," "suck," "brainless," "washed-up loser," "dimwit," "pre-diabetic who drinks too much," and one in-joke about Samuel L. Jackson's characters' infamy for strong language when Jimbo says "mother cocker spaniel." Potty humor involving "cut the cheese," farting, burping, and a giant toilet (the "super bowl"). Hurtful "No Dogs Allowed" sign. Although never referenced as such, the town's name sounds like "poops a lot" in Spanish.
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Products & Purchases
Reference to Mentos. Off-screen merchandise tie-ins to apparel, toys, games, and more.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Catnip extract is depicted as an addictive substance like alcohol, and Jimbo acts high/drunk on it and is shown overindulging in it more than once. It becomes a plot point: Jimbo hits the catnip too hard when he feels like a failure. Other adult characters drink what look like martinis and other drinks at a club.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is an animated comic adventure loosely based on Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles. Hank (voiced by Michael Cera) is a dog who wants nothing more than to become a samurai, even though that honor is always bestowed upon cats. He ends up assigned to defend an all-cat village and convinces a retired samurai named Jimbo (Samuel L. Jackson) to become his mentor. The adventure is mostly appropriate for families with younger kids but does include lots of martial arts-based cartoon violence -- some of it with weapons. There's also rude/potty humor (jokes about flatulence, burping, butts, spay and neutering) and insult language ("idiot," "imbecile," "dimwits," "suck," etc.). One line, "mother cocker spaniel," sounds a bit like Jackson's infamous cursing. Catnip is depicted as an addictive substance that can be abused, and a major character is portrayed as being dependent on it. Although the movie isn't educational in nature, its themes encourage courage, empathy, and teamwork, as well as tolerance and acceptance. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Recognizable story themes and plot points make this a decent comedic adventure. But it's not as memorable as similar movies like Kung Fu Panda or Rango. Cera's familiar voice is ideally cast to play the well-meaning but slightly bumbling Hank, who has to work hard to transform into a samurai. Jackson is also a selling point as the curmudgeonly -- and clearly troubled -- former samurai who's willing to train newbie Hank. Gervais sounds villainous most of the time, so he's more than believable as a narcissistic cat ruler with evil plans and an obsession with a giant toilet bowl.
The screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper is based on Blazing Saddles, but that's likely to be lost in translation for the movie's young target audience. Most of the jokes rely on bathroom humor, which seems over the top here even for a kid-oriented film. A few of the gags land, but there's only so much laughter to be had from a fart joke. What is funny is that the filmmakers were able to include a small role for nonagenarian Brooks, whom it's legitimately delightful to hear as the shogun. And kids will particularly enjoy the younger cats, who, like Hank, aspire to be samurai protectors of their village. Directors Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier, and Chris Bailey haven't created anything truly original here (not only is the movie Saddles-inspired, but it's also incredibly reminiscent of Kung Fu Panda), but that doesn't mean it won't entertain kids for an hour and a half. Paws of Fury is fine, but it's just not as singular and special as Hank.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.