Everyone’s favorite blue puppy has finally gotten her own film. Twenty-six years after Blue’s Clues exploded onto the children’s television scene, the popular Nick Jr. series has gotten the feature film treatment with Paramount+’s Blue’s Big City Adventure, and the results were well worth the wait. We are treated to toe-tapping, fun-filled adventure with enough engaging songs and story for the little ones, and enough nostalgia for the Gen Z audience that grew up with the original show (and their parents as well).
The film has Josh (Joshua Dela Cruz) excited and nervous to head to New York City to hopefully realize his dream of starring in a big Broadway musical. He and Blue head to the Big Apple (via a Blue Skidoo, the only way to leave Storybook World) to audition for Rainbow Puppy’s new show. However, in his excitement, he forgets his handy dandy notebook, and in it, the address of the location of the audition. Luckily, Blue is there as always to lend a hand (or rather a paw), and she helps out by leaving clues to help Josh find his way.
The rules of Blue’s Clues that viewers are so familiar with haven’t changed for the film; Josh must find pawprints left by Blue around the city to find out the location of his audition (for those worried that Josh won’t be able to solve the clues without the benefit of his trusty Thinking Chair, fear not, as he manages to drum up a New York City Thinking Chair- a stack of five-gallon buckets). When their friends back in Storybook World realize that Josh forgot his handy dandy notebook, Mr. Salt, Tickity Tock, and Slippery Soap (an anthropomorphic salt shaker, alarm clock, and bar of soap, respectively), head to NYC to bring it to him, stopping to get assistance from some old friends- former Blue’s Clues hosts Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donavan Patton).
A Long Time Coming
Blue’s Big City Adventure marks the third Nick Jr. series to be adapted into a feature film, the first being 2019’s live-action Dora and the Lost City of Gold, followed by 2021’s animated PAW Patrol: The Movie. Making a theatrical film for an audience that consists primarily of toddlers is a dicey proposition. In its over half-century run, Sesame Street attempted it only twice; 1985’s Follow That Bird and 1999’s The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, both of which were financial failures. However, Blue’s Big City Adventure has the advantage of being made in the streaming era, so children can enjoy it in the comfort of their own homes.
Old-school fans of Blue should note that this film is based on the current incarnation of the show, Blue’s Clues & You!, which Dela Cruz has been hosting since 2019. However, very few changes have been made to the show (outside of some upgraded animation), so there is a lot here to be excited about. This is particularly true of the film’s inclusion of Steve and Joe, whose appearances are absolutely grin-inducing. It should also be noted that there is no multiverse trickery here- Steve and Joe have both appeared in the new series, and it has been established that Josh is a cousin of Blue’s two former owners, who are brothers.
The Real Star of the Film
While Blue remains the titular character, the star of the two versions of the series has always been the host (there’s always going to be the “Who’s your Batman?” debate over everyone’s personal favorite host), but Blue’s Big City Adventure is unquestionably Dela Cruz’s film. Burns and Patton have both proved their musical inclinations in the past, but Dela Cruz’s stellar talents are really on display here. Prior to his hosting duties on Blue’s Clues & You!, Dela Cruz spent some time on Broadway, including starring in Disney’s Aladdin. He sets the tone of the film in the showstopping opening song, in which he celebrates the possibilities of the brand new day (this musical number alone could convert even the most die-hard Steve/Joe supporter over to Team Josh).
The film is peppered with great musical pieces, including the upbeat number, “We’re On Our Way,” as well as some familiar faces, including Bill & Ted‘s Alex Winter and the Black Eye Pea’s Taboo, among others. Director Matt Stawski and cinematographer Derek McKane use New York City, primarily Central Park and Times Square, as a hyperreal set piece, creating an aesthetic that, while completely different from the fantasy world in which these characters usually inhabit, still makes sense for them to occupy. While this is Stawski’s first feature film, his 15 years as a music video director is evident and is precisely what this film needed.
Despite a relatively short run time and a story that moves at a decent click, there are a few slow moments that might lose the attention of the toddler group. Both Blue’s Clues and Blue’s Clues & You! have been lauded for their deliberate pacing, but that has always been for the sake of engagement and interactivity, whereas its purpose here is story driven. It should also be mentioned that the film isn’t exactly for everyone. Young children, their parents, and the now-grown children who watched the original run are the target demographics, but if you do not fall into one of those categories, Blue’s Big City Adventure may still be worth a watch. The film is boisterously joyful, and regardless of your age, there’s a certain gratification to figuring out Blue’s clues.
Blue’s Big City Adventure streams exclusively on Paramount+ on November 18.