Show Dogs

2018-07-06 06:18
 

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:

With Frank, his reluctant human partner, in tow, Max, a tough-as-nails, loner of a police dog, goes undercover in a prestigious dog show to try and uncover a group of animal traffickers who are trying to capture some of the most perfectly groomed and rarest species around.  

WHAT WE THOUGHT:

Show Dogs is a rather difficult film for me to review. While I'm often able to enjoy kids films for what they are – films from Pixar and Laika quite easily at that, but I can also appreciate the juvenile fun of Diary of a Wimpy Kid even if I'm demonstrably not part of its target audience – there are times when I know that kids may well enjoy something I actively dislike. Such is the case with this singularly daft and, frankly, quite grating comedy adventure with its talking animals and abundance of fart jokes. 

Show Dogs is, by any criteria, not a good film in any way shape or form. Its jokes are limp, its characters annoying and its plot blandly uninspired; featuring a cast who should know better – or, in the case of Will Arnett, who is so brilliantly funny as Gob Bluth in Arrested Development but so hopelessly unfunny in so many of his other projects, clearly doesn't – and a director whose claim to fame is a bunch of other widely derided talking animal flicks like Scooby-Doo and, heaven help us, Beverly Hills Chihuahua.   

Worse, even clocking in at a measly ninety minutes, Show Dogs felt like it went on forever, constantly dipping from cute to cutesy and from pleasantly silly to obnoxiously stupid. Max, as voiced by Ludacris (because why shouldn't the actor playing him also have a one-word name and why shouldn't that name review itself?) is an OK enough hero and Arnett is reasonably well cast as oafish Frank but the supporting animals, even when voiced by genuinely great actors like Stanley Tucci and Alan Cumming, are mostly more annoying than anything. 

As for the storytelling, that it took me a good half hour to work out whether the humans could actually understand what their animal companions were saying, kind of says it all. It's either so boring that I couldn't be bothered to notice what was going on or so badly told that that rather crucial bit of information went flying over my admittedly already drooping head. And, it has  to be said, while some of the animals are indeed quite cute – none more so than an adorable baby Panda – I still find “live-action” talking dogs creepy as hell. This isn't anywhere near the same level of skin-crawling horror as those (Toyota) adverts from a few years back that featured a dog with a human mouth badly superimposed on it but it's still off putting.  

I hated Show Dogs, in other words, and based on my purely subjective point of view, this deserves no more than a single-star rating. And yet. However much I hate the idea of under-valuing a child's intelligence or talking down to them (that someone like JK Rowling refuses to do either is a big part of why Harry Potter is so alluring to children and so easily enjoyable to adults), I think there's a pretty large chance that though you may hate it every bit as much as me, your kids may well love it. It zips along, it has cute animals and plenty of very childish humour – young kids dig all of these, don't they?

Even then, though, I'm pretty sure that it's nowhere near memorable enough, even on that level, that you have to worry about your kids wanting you to buy them the DVD and even if they do, they probably won't want to watch it approximately several billion times every day after school. Probably.


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