Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank: What the Cat Dragged In to Children’s Entertainment

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It was September 3, 2022 when I first saw Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank during a babysitting gig. As I sat there, with noises of samurai cats blaring in the background, I was struck with a sudden epiphany that I wasn’t getting paid enough. I used its runtime to both take a break from the exhaustion of playing hide and seek tag for 2 hours earlier that day and to contemplate the 103 minutes of my life I was never going to get back. 

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank is a newly-released animated movie that follows a naïve dog named Hank. He finds himself appointed the samurai of a town of cats who need a hero to defend them from an evil politician, despite the town hating dogs. The movie’s cast is an accomplished one, boasting famed voice actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Cera, and Mel Brooks, but it soon became clear that acquiring these star actors was the only work the creators put into Paws of Fury. Olaf Skjenna, the director of cinematography on Paws of Fury, described the cinematic process to Cinestie — an entertainment review website — as one that “allows you to cherry-pick different elements and create a new kind of mash-up.” I would definitely describe Paws of Fury as a “new kind of mash-up.” It may be the only thing we ever agree on. 

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank attempts to pay homage to 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, a movie in which a Black sheriff policies a racist majority-white town by having a dog police a town inhabited by cats (no, seriously). But that “homage” quickly becomes lost in a confusing and chaotic plot. Paws of Fury is set both in the Wild West and ancient Japan, but without the charm of either. As Variety writer Owen Gleiberman wrote, “The jokes are coughed up and sit there, like hairballs on a carpet.” But in all seriousness, if you manage to ignore the lazy slapstick comedy, poor animation, and confusing storyline, then I guess you could boil the movie down to a “love everyone” message, which is good for kids to learn. So at least there’s that. 

It soon became clear that acquiring these star actors was the only work the creators put into Paws of Fury.”

But “despite whatever we were doing, comedy always came first!” Skjenna continued. It appears that everyone else violently disagrees. Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank scored a pitiful 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, and despite being screened across 3,475 theaters nationwide, the movie barely scraped up $6.25 million at the box office across its opening weekend. For reference, Minions: The Rise of Gru topped $125.5 million, so it’s safe to say critics have clearly been having a field day with this film. I sure know I have. 

But maybe watching it wasn’t the worst use of my time. Along with my previous realization about my hourly wage, Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank has reminded me to not have high expectations, or really, any expectations for the future of children’s entertainment. Long gone are the days of knowing every new movie was going to be a hit; now we’re tossed breadcrumbs like The Sea Beast and The Bad Guys to make sure we don’t go completely hungry. Anjali Walsh ’25, agreed wholeheartedly: “The movies we watched are cinematic masterpieces compared to the garbage they show today.” 

Maybe Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank points to an even sadder truth than a decline in children’s entertainment. Paws of Fury wasn’t made for me; it certainly wasn’t made for the middle-aged reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. But it was made for Spencer, the kid I was babysitting, and the rest of the 7 year-olds in the world, and he enjoyed it enough to watch it a second time in two days. So perhaps children’s entertainment isn’t getting worse after all. Perhaps we’re just getting older.