Michael Cera stars as an anthropomorphic dog, who is in training to become a samurai, and Samuel L. Jackson plays his stranded feline mentor in Paramount’s latest family-friendly animated film, “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank. “. The movie looks like standard CGI family fare, until you learn that the movie, originally titled “Blazing Samurai,” is a PG adaptation of Mel Brooks’ 1974 satire on Western movies and race relations, ” Blazing Saddles”.
Sure enough, the basic story elements of “Blazing Saddles” are all there – only now, rather than an evil railroad baron employing an unwitting black prisoner to be the sheriff of a racist town, a conniving cat (Ricky Gervais) convinces Hank, a lost beagle, to become the samurai of a village with a prejudice against canines. (Brooks even reprises his “Blazing Saddles” role as Governor, now reimagined as geriatric shogun.) Many of the same jokes and slapstick gags from Brooks’ film are also referenced, though they’ve been rearranged to remove any obsolete reference or obscenity. . Some jokes, however, still slip under the radar: At one point, Jackson’s character, retired samurai Jimbo, refers to a group of village invaders as “NWA – Ninjas With Attitude.”
Despite its risque origins, “Paws of Fury” manages to deliver lighthearted entertainment, swashbuckling action, and surface-level messages about chasing your dreams, though not all the jokes land. The anachronistic sight gags of “Blazing Saddles” don’t work as well in the hyperrealistic world of a children’s cartoon, where the sight of a dog and cat in kimonos frequenting a bottle-service nightclub around 2009 is not as absurd as that. would be in real action. Still, if watching those same characters sword fight around the bowl of a huge jade toilet sounds fun to you or your kids, this might be the movie of the summer for you.
Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank
Rated PG. Duration: 1h37. In theaters.