Talking animals, slapstick jeopardy in live-action misfire.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Paws P.I. is another in the "kids-solve-mystery-with-the-help-of-talking-animals" genre. The budding junior detectives encounter a devious, heartless villain and his two bumbling henchmen. Both kids and animals are in mild peril through multiple sequences. The action includes chases, stealthy scenes in a shadowy mansion, falls, groin kicks, and threats with guns. An adult woman is roughly seized and held hostage; a little girl is briefly held captive. Male dogs ogle females. A few mild insults are heard: "idiot," "butt." The young hero is still mourning his recently deceased mom. Enough time has passed, however, so his dad can spark to an approved romantic "replacement."
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What's the Story?
It's been a year since Peter's mom died when PAWS P.I. opens. Peter (Neal Genys) still misses her, and so does Connor (Eddie Mills), his dad. In fact, because of his heartbreak, Connor has lost, among other things, his car and, more importantly, what was a thriving private investigation business. Peter's mission becomes getting his dad's life back together. The first step will be opening a detective office in their garage. Then Peter and his best friend Madison (Selah Atwood), together with his beloved pets Jackson the dog (voiced by Jon Lovitz) and Peabody the bird (Circus-Szalewski), help him flood the small town in which they live with flyers, announcing the new enterprise. The plan works. When a lovely veterinarian (Celesta Hodge) enlists Connor's services in the hopes of getting the inheritance that has been stolen from her, the game is on. Peter, Madison, and the pets don't just help Connor with his first assignment, they also uncover a mean-spirited plot and a dastardly villain and take on the menacing accomplices who work for him.
Is It Any Good?
Low budget doesn't have to mean low quality, but in this case, the script, the direction, most performances, and a pervasive shortage of logic leave a lot to be desired. A talking bird, some skateboarding scenes, and an earnest performance by Selah Atwood as young Madison are the only saving graces in this otherwise artless production. And yet the filmmakers hint that a sequel will follow. Let's hope for a better result if that happens.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the fact that filmmakers so often tell tales about kids who have lost one parent. How does this plot point provide the filmmaker with easy emotional storylines? For the kids? For the single parent?
Why do you think talking animals are usually so much fun to watch? Be creative. Write or act out an imaginary conversation between two pets that you know or create your own characters.
Talk about the violence in Paws P.I. Is it meant to be scary or funny? Or a combination of the two? Why is it important to know the impact of violence on kids, especially young ones who don't yet understand the difference between real and pretend?
- On DVD or streaming: May 28, 2018
- Cast: Jon Lovitz, Neal Genys, Selah Atwood
- Director: Danny Buday
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship
- Run time: 86 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- Last updated: May 2, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
The Secret Life of Pets
Adventure is clever and engaging, despite animals in peril.
Sweet dog tale has some peril and mature themes.
Hotel for Dogs
Young pet lovers will get a kick out of dog comedy.
Pup Star: World Tour
Slapstick action and humor in musical talking-dog sequel.
Animated comedy is old-fashioned and fun; some peril.
For kids who love animals
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