Amiable Australian animation 100% Wolf (2020) is a gently horror-tinged adventure for the Paw Patrol crowd.

It’s been a curious and catastrophic few months for cinemas and the movie industry but I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that it would be amiably lightweight Australian animation “100% Wolf”, rather than the bloated self-importance of “Tenet”, that would – for me at least – bring the magic of cinema back to life. No wait – don’t go! Let me explain…

A little bit like “The Lion King” of werewolves, “100% Wolf” sees a pack of werewolves – who form their own ‘Paw Patrol’ to rescue those in trouble – looking towards the turning of Freddy Lupin, the son of the current pack leader but when Freddy’s transformation turns him into a poodle, he must find a way to earn his place in the pack.

While there’s nothing particularly innovative in the storytelling here, with tropes of missing fathers, lost jewels, sinister dogcatchers and a crazed werewolf conspiracy theorist thrown into the mix, somehow the ingredients come together to deliver an entertaining and often amusing adventure. It’s fun, fast-paced and genuinely witty with some real chuckle out loud moments for kids of all ages.

The voice cast is pretty decent with the likes of Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby, Jane Lynch and Jai Courtney upping the star power but where the film really scores is in its understanding of its audience and pitching the humour just right. Okay, sure, the kid characters speak in the way adults think kids speak and the animosity between werewolves and dogs is never quite explained but the characters are well-designed and likeable, the plot hangs together well and pretty much all the jokes land. While it may not deliver any unexpected twists, it does manage to wrap everything up nicely in the end.

So why would such an innocuous animation remind me of the real magic of cinema? Precisely because of how much I ended up enjoying it – and how much the kids enjoyed it. It transformed a glum and grey Thursday afternoon at the tail end of our holiday and, by far exceeding even my reasonable expectations, it rekindled in me the joy of discovering new movies, especially the unexpected gems hidden in the detritus of the ‘kids club’ conveyor belt. It was a welcome reminder of the power of the big screen to transform even the smallest of stories into an enchanting escape from the cares of the world.

6/10