Show Dogs
dir Raja Gosnell
scr Max Botkin, Marc Hyman
prd Deepak Nayar, Philip von Alvensleben
with Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, Omar Chaparro, Andy Beckwith, Kerry Shale, Oliver Tompsett
voices Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Jordin Sparks, Stanley Tucci, Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias, Alan Cumming, Shaquille O'Neal, RuPaul
release US 18.May.18, UK 25.May.18
18/US Open Road 1h32
Show Dogs
Good cop, bad cop: Max and Arnett

bridges lyonne tucci
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Show Dogs Breathlessly silly, this childish action comedy storms through its ridiculous plot with gusto, dropping witty lines of dialog and snappy references everywhere. This may now be enough to entertain each grown-up in the audience, but those who are able to enjoy a few zinging oneliners and lots of dopey goofiness will enjoy themselves. Meanwhile, the target audience of 8-year-olds will have a blast.

Max (voiced by Bridges) is a police Rottweiler annoyed by the stupidity of the humans around him. And he's particularly irritated by FBI agent Frank (Arnett), who is assigned to work undercover with him to infiltrate the world's top dog show in Las Vegas. There Max meets the sexy shepherd Daisy (Sparks), whose human Mattie (Lyonne) is working with Frank to discover who is kidnapping valuable animals and selling them on the black market. To become a show dog, Max enlists tetchy former champion Philippe (Tucci) as a mentor. And everything gets rather furry.

There's a throwaway moment in which a formally attired pooch on the Vegas red carpet bemoans the fact that no one makes talking dog movies any more. So the filmmakers are clearly aware how corny all of this is, but that doesn't stop them from indulging in quite a lot of appalling slapstick, including an accompanying chorus of clumsy pigeons. And since the entire budget seems to have gone on securing this high-powered voice cast, the effects are pretty terrible. Although there's a sense that they knew this too.

Each doggie performance is adorable; at least they're actual animals and not awkward digital stunt doubles. The dogs manage to make the dorky human cast somewhat engaging. Arnett's Frank takes the predictable journey from jerk to best buddy, complete with a relatively sweet subliminal romance with Lyonne's much more capable and sensitive Mattie. As far as the voice cast is concerned, Tucci easily steals the show as the hilarious diva Philippe. RuPaul is shamefully wasted as a prissy poodle.

If the filmmakers had taken an even slightly sophisticated approach, this wacky movie might have been a minor classic. Instead, they keep things resolutely infantile, with obvious gags, cliched characters and a plot that can best be described as irrelevant. But there are several genuinely amusing sequences, and some action moments that are so dodgy that they elicit a laugh. So even if the movie's a scruffy mess, it's good company for 90 minutes.

cert pg themes, violence, language 15.Apr.18

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