New flick a dog’s breakfast
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 genitalobsessed film about talking animals aligning with police officers in a thinly veiled marketing coup for a Vegas casino.