New flick a dog’s break­fast

Montreal Gazette - - MOVIES - JUS­TINE SMITH


out of 5 Cast: Will Ar­nett, Lu­dacris Di­rec­tor: Raja Gos­nell Du­ra­tion: 1h32m

In Show Dogs, a Rot­tweiler po­lice dog named Max (voiced by Lu­dacris) part­ners with FBI agent Frank (Will Ar­nett) and goes un­der­cover at a dog show to take down an in­ter­na­tional smug­gling ring.

As there are a di­ver­sity of dog breeds present, the film presents a les­son on re­spect­ing those who are dif­fer­ent from you, a mes­sage ham­mered home with speeches only vaguely con­nected to what is hap­pen­ing on screen.

Em­ploy­ing a hero’s jour­ney nar­ra­tive, the film trots along from one plot point to the next, but never pauses to cre­ate a sen­si­ble con­nec­tion be­tween story and mes­sage. Worst of all, Show Dogs lacks charm and hu­mour as it settles in as unin­spired and pan­der­ing medi­ocrity aimed at chil­dren.

Ap­par­ently spon­sored by the NYPD and Cae­sars Palace in Las Ve­gas, both of which are con­stantly ref­er­enced, much of Show Dogs is de­voted to jokes about Max’s tes­ti­cles. Yes, this is a chil­dren’s movie that is un­nat­u­rally con­sumed with its cen­tral char­ac­ter’s junk.

Even the mar­ket­ing team is so con­vinced that this is the sell­ing point, its ad­ver­tis­ing strat­egy is built around a scene where they give the dog a bikini wax. This, un­for­tu­nately, sent me down a Google rab­bit hole as to whether pro­fes­sional breed­ers ac­tu­ally wax their dog ’s pri­vates. They do not.

One of the big­gest hur­dles Max has to over­come is that, as part of the com­pe­ti­tion, a judge will have to fon­dle his dog­gie pack­age. In an un­com­fort­ably long mon­tage, Ar­nett makes sev­eral at­tempts to grab the Rot­tweiler’s dan­gly bits, and the dog is hav­ing none of it. As they en­ter the judg­ing ring, nei­ther Max nor Frank is sure he’ll be able to keep his com­po­sure, and this be­comes the ul­ti­mate test of Max’s sto­icism.

So, when the judge reaches for the boys, Max keeps calm and goes to his happy place, a Dirty Danc­ing in­spired psy­chotropic trip where some gi­ant hearts ex­plode and Ar­nett channels a very poor man’s Patrick Swayze.

With a sigh of re­lief, this fan­tas­tic imag­in­ing is just long enough for Max to get through the fondling with­out mak­ing a scene, mark­ing an ec­static mo­ment of tran­si­tion as cop dog be­comes show dog. It is an in­spir­ing se­quence that teaches the im­por­tance of keep­ing it to­gether un­der pres­sure.

Mix this gen­i­tal ob­ses­sion with bad CGI, un­re­lent­ing ref­er­ences to Lego Bat­man and a gen­eral sense of malaise, and you have a picture of what Show Dogs of­fers.

Even the tal­ented voice cast which in­cludes Ru Paul, Stan­ley Tucci and Alan Cum­ming does the movie no favours. The film’s only re­deem­ing fac­tor is Natasha Ly­onne’s fabulous bangs, but sadly, that isn’t quite a strong enough sell­ing point.

While it is an un­re­lent­ing cliché to de­mand some­one “think of the chil­dren,” if ever there was a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for us­ing the phrase, it should be in ref­er­ence to a wide re­lease gen­i­tal ob­sessed film about talk­ing an­i­mals align­ing with po­lice of­fi­cers in a thinly veiled mar­ket­ing coup for a Ve­gas casino.

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