Review of Paws of Fury

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“It’s good to be the king” is a line we all know well, from one of the masters of comedy – Mel Brooks. And it’s a line you hear again, with his voice, coming out of the mouth of a cat, in his latest movie, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. Mel Brooks isn’t the only star to lend his voice to his animated feature though. Samuel L. Jackson plays Jimbo, the washed up samurai. Ricky Gervais plays Ika Chu, the main villain and George Takai plays Ohga, his primary henchman. Just like you can’t have Mel Brooks without his signature line, Takai gives us the “oh my” that we all know we want as soon as we learn he is in the movie. Michael Cera plays Hank – the only dog in the film.

Check out trailer below!

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In the movie, Hank wants to be a samurai so he sneaks to the Land of Cats, where no dogs are allowed. They make an exception for him though – well, Ika Chu does, making him the samurai of a town that he wants to wipe off the map. A dog samurai in a town of cats, that all hate dogs? And of course, Hank doesn’t even know how to be a samurai. Jimbo takes Hank under his wing and starts teaching him the ways of the samurai.

I am not going to spoil the story but I will tell you this – if you ever thought to yourself, “I love Blazing Saddles, but I wish it was appropriate for my 9 year old,” then this is the movie for you. It’s a family friendly version of the movie (with some differences, of course) but it’s close enough that Richard Pryor still got a writing credit, and he died over 15 years ago. There is a reason why this movie’s original title was “Blazing Samurai.”

YouTube video

The message of Blazing Saddles was one of acceptance and equality. That message is present in this movie as well. It’s a little more overt, which is fine because kids aren’t known for their mastery of subtlety, but you’ll see townscats say how they don’t like dogs and how dogs cannot be samurai. And of course, one thing that you see is Hank becoming a samurai in his own way, since there are things that dogs can’t do that cats can (cats are better climbers, but dogs are better at digging – just something to keep in mind).

My son really liked the movie. I enjoyed it, and at times looked for those references to movies that I knew. Overall, it is an enjoyable way to kill an hour and a half, or to be exact, 85 minutes, not counting the closing credits. How do I know that? They did mention it a few times. In fact, that was one of the parts of the movie that I didn’t enjoy – there were frequent breaks of the 4th wall. Those jokes didn’t land, but plenty of others did. You could hear a lot of laughter in the theater and the kids all seemed to enjoy themselves.

Paws of Fury is rated PG. There is some violence, and a decent amount of toilet humor (literally, and at times involving an actual jade toilet). The bad guys are not too scary but there is a scene where the town is almost destroyed, and one where … well … if you know what happens in Blazing Saddles, you know what happens here. Paws of Fury is in theaters starting July 15th.

We were invited to a preview of the film by Review Wire Media for Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies to facilitate this review.

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