When a movie uses the stupidly hit pop song known as “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” you know you're in for something that is not near as good as your average lousy movie. Part of this film’s effect on me is part of my own fault. I decided to sit down and watch this movie at a theater, and I have no one else to blame but my own stupid self, but I had to see this in theaters. If I watched this movie at home, I would have ended up like the kids next to me and would begin surfing through Youtube, so I could forget about the movie playing before me.
It’s an intentionally harmless and blameless children’s movie that focuses on a new york police dog, Max (Ludacris). He’s a dog that has been on the streets for as long as he can remember, he sleeps on the floor and never trusts anyone. After a stakeout goes awry, he’s partnered with an FBI agent, Frank (Will Arnett). Their after an animal trafficking syndicate that has stolen Tigers and other exotic animals, including a baby panda. The one cute thing to be found in the film is that baby panda whose pouting noises are the best parts of the movie, and almost match that of my own pouting sounds when I watched this movie.
To save this baby panda, they must join the participants in a dog show. This is where we meet Philippe (Stanley Tucci), whose expertise past in showbiz allows him to teach the ins and outs to his newfound protege. Another expert on the show dog handlers is Mattie (Natasha Lyonne), whose current show dog, Daisy (Jordin Sparks) becomes the love interest of our canine hero.
There is also Sprinkles (Gabriel Iglesias), the supposed comedic relief, and Karma (Shaquille O’Neal), a meditation and yoga fanatic dog. Max (Ludacris) and Frank (Will Arnett) and their new found friends must work together to overcome the hardships of dog fashion shows and their own internal squabbles to save the day.
It’s a kids movie about nothing, with a plot that does nothing but distracts a very young child for the length of the runtime. This movie exists to give parents a break, I guess, but why would you let your child digest such a bad thing? Why not show your kid something that teaches them? Why not show your kid anything from the Studio Ghibli library or Pixar library so that they're both distracted while learning valuable life lessons?
Instead, they are dumbed down with a screenplay whose best attempts at comedy are jokes that will go over any kids head, and continue to act like these kids are too dumb to notice the inconsistency of dogs talking to humans.
It’s assumed that humans can’t understand them, but the editing of the conversations argues otherwise. As if Frank (Will Arnett) is exchanging dialogue with his canine counterpart, instead of them merely saying the same thing but unable to understand the language in which they speak it. Not to mention, the countless self-referencing jokes like that of Arnett using the Batman voice he made famous last year with “The LEGO Batman Movie,” or that of Shaquille O’Neal referencing his NBA success. Are these the jokes for the adults?
I am as confused as you are, but our story continues as screenwriters Marc Hyman (“Meet the Fockers” & “How to Train your Dragon”) and Max Botkin (“What Happened to Monday”) inject Oscar worthy lines such as: “Your a mut of many mysteries,” “Your different than the other show dogs,” “Save your big splash for the final competition,” “He must know something, I mean max is a trained police dog,” “Being a show dog is a lot harder than I gave you credit for.”
They are apparently worthy of some more work; nonetheless, Raja Gosnell delivers a film that looks like everything we’ve ever seen before. A point and shoot camera method with an absence of style, Gosnell might have never shown up to the set, because almost anyone could make a film look like this when given the proper equipment. The CGI is inherently worse than expected as there are multiple scenes in which Max (Ludacris) does some extraordinarily unbelievable things, but our human characters remain unbeknownst nonetheless.
They, like most of our actors, feel forced to be there. They are merely there to explain the story to the kids, like that of the three pigeons who literally provide exposition to the audience. It’s a continuous battle to get studios to make great kids films which is what makes movies like “COCO” and “Inside Out” feel so unique. They’re mature, innocent, indicative, and prominently handled. Studio Ghibli is the master of that kind of art, and Global Road Entertainment is obviously not.
The best joke of the film that brought a smirk to my face was a scene in which Frank (Will Arnett) attempts to reach out to his snoopy partner by trying to fetch. Max (Ludacris), of course, refuses and snaps back by stating “Next time, you fetch,” as if there is going to be a sequel. It’s hilarious that the studio thinks audiences will be taken aback by the refreshing children's tale of talking dogs with nothing meaningful to say.
There were avenues to go through like subtle messages on the mistreatment of exotic animals like Rhinoceros, or the importance of friendship. “Show Dogs” strays away from those themes and asks the dumbest of questions as even the most gullible of children will become more fascinated with the chair they reside in than any event taking place throughout this movie.