A deprecated and obsolete animated feature

Why have so many people lobbied to remake a playful version of the Mel Brooks classic? Flaming Saddles that was clearly a bad idea from the conception? That’s a question no logical person can answer, but there’s a chance that paws of rage might have seemed a little less anachronistic if it had come out years ago as originally intended. In 2022, however, the film looks and feels like an outdated relic, stylistically and culturally unrelated to what US animated film currently has to offer.

Critics are obviously having a great day with the film, which was directed by Rob Minkoff, Mark Koetsier and Chris Bailey. About half of the critics gave it a thumbs down paws of rage on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, and even the positive reviews aren’t exactly thrilling. Here’s a look at what they say:

Diversity’s Owen Gleiberman points to the film’s tired humor:

paws of rage is an efficient but unimaginable animated fable that hardly has the flavor of a clichéd western comedy. Mel Brooks, one of the film’s executive producers, has a speaking role — he’s the shogun, saying things like, “There ain’t no business like the shogun business.” You want to take a bit off the great Mel, who’s 96, but this is a line your grandfather probably wouldn’t have laughed at, and too much humor paws of rage is like that. The jokes are coughed up and lie there like furballs on the carpet.

AV Club’s Martin Tsai condemned some of the film’s content as “morally reprehensible”:

From the eight companies involved and some 300 cast and crew members, it’s clear that not enough red flags have been raised — if any — about the thoughtlessness of this production and its performances. Regardless of whether its predecessor conforms (in whole or in part) to today’s standards of sensitivity, Flaming Saddles not only hired Richard Pryor as screenwriter, but at least strove to comment on the bigotry he portrays. paws of rage softens this film’s commentary and turns its R-rated aspirations into a reminder of exactly why more people of color need to be involved in creative decision-making—on all projects, but especially on ones like this one.

Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press felt that the film’s attempts to emulate Brooks’ original live-action classic failed:

Paramount’s limp animated remake actually reboots stereotypes to expose racism for teen audiences. The studio appears to have grasped for legitimacy, bringing the revered Brooks along for the bumpy ride and eclipsing both legacies. The result sits restlessly on the corner of tribute, parody, theft and laziness. paws of rage follows Brooks’ original script through to a horse-slapping moment and a farting group scene, but fails to capture his exciting, boundary-busting mood.

Even those who didn’t hate it, like Claire Shaffer in the New York Timesare not exactly in love with the film:

Despite its daring origins, paws of rage manages to dish out light-hearted fun, swashbuckling action, and superficial messages about chasing your dreams, though not every joke lands. The anachronistic sight intervenes Flaming Saddles don’t work as well in the hyper-real world of a children’s cartoon, where the sight of a dog and cat in kimonos visiting a nightclub with bottle service circa 2009 isn’t as absurd as it would be in live-action. If watching the same characters sword fight around the bowl of a giant jade-colored toilet sounds fun to you or your kids, this could be the movie of the summer for you.

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