Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Screenplay by: Max Botkin and Marc Hyman
Produced by: Deepak Nayar and Philip Von Alvensleben
Co-Produced by: Paul Sarony
Executive Produced: by Tom Ortenberg, Nik Bower, Raja Gosnell, Max Botkin, Scott Lambert, Kassee Whiting, Yu-Fai Suen, Robert Norris, and Norman Merry
Starring: Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne
Voiced by: Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordin Sparks, Stanley Tucci, Shaquille O’Neal, Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, Alan Cummings, RuPaul Persphone, Anders Holm, Kate Micucci and Blake Anderson.
It’s school holiday time which means it’s time for some silliness at the cinema.
Show Dogs is no exception complete with talking dogs including Max the NYPD Rottweiler loner police dog who’s, ‘Good at taking a bite out of crime.’
And his human partner, Federal Agent Frank Mosley (Will Arnett) who does his best to keep up with his four-legged friend without ‘mounting him’.
Puns proliferate as the dynamic duo search for baby panda Ling-Li stolen from his mother by an animal smuggling ring, to be sold at the Canini Invitational Dog Show in Las Vegas where all the glitz and glamour of the best dogs in the world are shown by the equally competitive and glitzy handlers.
To track the smugglers and find Ling-Li, garbage eater and proud toilet drinker Max must be entered into the competition by the clueless Frank.
Without help from special canine consultant Mattie Smith (Natasha Lyonne), a professional dog handler and groomer, along with a disgraced and abandoned aging Papillon, once known as ‘Philippe De Fabulous’ for being a three-time world champion Show Dog, the-one-who-bites (AKA, Max) and the-one-who-doesn’t-know-where-he’ll-be-bitten-next (FBI agent, Frank), doesn’t stand a chance.
Director Raja Gosnell takes us back to the family-fun times of live-action movies, which is rare these days with most kid-movies’ animation. So, I was expecting some big-time silliness escaping a dreary winter Sunday afternoon: talking dogs – tick! Silly? Not silly enough!
I realise I’m not the targeted audience but there was an undercurrent of serious in Show Dog, a holding back I didn’t expect.
I’m not saying the film wasn’t light-hearted, with dogs wearing sunglasses and pigeons getting, well, ‘pigeon bumps’.
But there was a forced moral to the story kinda thrown in with Max re-writing what it is to be a Show Dog while learning to trust people who see the world a different way.
Being such a fan of his character in Arrested Development I expected more humour from human Frank, played by Will Arnett. Yet, he was more reserved here with the focus on the dog Max who wasn’t a funny character, more the, I-listen-to hip-hop, take-me-serious, character.
The humour didn’t always hit the mark but jez the panda was cute, and yes, I’m one of those people who don’t own a dog but get down to the dog park whenever I can to hang out and be entertained by their pure delight of running, smelling and fetching. And the director here explains, “the only things we’re doing in post-production, in terms of the dog’s performance, is eyebrows and mouth and a few eye shapes. The rest is 100% the dog’s performance.”
Not my cup-of-tea but tolerable to take the kids for an outing.
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