Synopsis: Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening.
Release Date: May 18, 2018 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
A few months back, Wes Anderson wowed us with the talking dog movie Isle of Dogs. Now, hot on the heels of that and riding the coattails of live action/animation hybrids like Paddington 2 and Peter Rabbit, we’re getting the years second talking dog movie, Show Dogs.
Show Dogs is about an NYPD Rottweiler named Max (voiced by rapper-turned-actor Ludacris from the Fast and Furious movies) who teams up with an FBI agent named Frank (Will Arnett from “Arrested Development”) to track down a stolen baby Panda. Their investigation takes them to Las Vegas, where Max has to enter (and win) a dog show in order to flush out the thieves. With the help of a dog groomer named Mattie (Natasha Lyonne from Hello, My Name is Doris) and several of the other dogs, the rough-and-tumble Max is transformed into a Champion showdog and Frank is trained to be his handler, all so that the partners can bring down the animal smuggling ring.
Directed by Raja Gosnell (The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo) from a script written by Max Botkin (What Happened to Monday) and Marc Hyman (How to Train Your Dragon), Show Dogs is essentially an eighties throwback buddy cop picture, except one of the buddies happens to be a dog. It’s even got a retro soundtrack and an emotionally forced romantic subplot (why do all of the female characters in movies like this have to turn into a love interest?). The Turner & Hooch-lite storyline is packed with improbable conveniences that are explained away with verbally spoken exposition. So why is Show Dogs so much fun?
It’s the dogs. A lot has been said about the voice cast of Isle of Dogs (and rightfully so), but the actors who bring the dogs to life in Show Dogs are just as effective, and actually more emotive, than the usual Wes Anderson suspects who provide the deadpan deliveries of the canines on Trash Island. The Show Dogs pups are voiced by the likes of Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, Gabriel Iglesias, RuPaul, and Shaquille O’Neal, and each actor brings a distinct personality to their character. Some of it is no doubt Gosnell’s experienced direction, but that should not take away from the performances of the cast. Sure, the dogs are mostly archetypical parodies of human character tropes, but the actors have fun with it, so the audience has fun watching and listening to it.
Show Dogs is one of those movies that provides a lot of joy while it’s being watched, then is promptly forgotten once the lights come up. It’s meant to be consumed and flushed. And that’s all right. It is, after all, a movie about talking dogs, and one without the social message of Isle of Dogs. Show Dogs is good brainless fun, as long as you can find your logic off switch.
While the humor in Show Dogs is silly and sophomoric, it’s still plenty funny. Although there are a few good references to Arnett’s role in The Lego Batman Movie, most of the comedic bits in the film are delivered by the dogs. There’s slapstick comedy, verbal humor, sight gags, situational laughs – a bit of everything, and for the most part, it all works. It’s about as raunchy as a PG-13 movie can be, but there’s nothing too naughty, aside from a questionable running gag about the dogs going to their happy place when the judges check their privates (questionable because it may trigger some more sensitive viewers). Basically, the dogs carry the comedy in the same way that they carry the rest of the movie, and the humans just play the straight men. And that formula is hysterical.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Raja Gosnell
- Producer(s): Deepak NayarPhilip von AlvenslebenDavid Womack
- Screenwriter(s): Max BotkinMarc Hyman
- Cast: Will Arnett (Frank)Alan Cummong (Dante)Stanley Tucci (Philippe) Natasha Lyonne (Mattie)RuPaul (Persephone)Shaquille O’Neal (Karma)Gabriel Iglesias (Sprinkles)Omar Chaparro (Gabriel)Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges (Max)
- Editor(s): David Freeman
- Cinematographer: David Mackie
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Claire Finlay
- Casting Director(s): Michelle Guish
- Music Score: Heitor Pereira
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USAUK