Show Dogs, 2018.
Directed by Raja Gosnell.
Starring Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Jordin Sparks, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O’Neal, Alan Cumming, and Stanley Tucci.
When a lone Rottweiler cop (stick with me), voiced by Ludacris (please, stay, sit) uncovers a Panda smuggling ring, he must go undercover as a show dog to infiltrate the gang. In order to do this he must team up with Will Arnett’s FBI agent, who isn’t exactly dog’s best friend.
The detective dog sub-genre has been impounded since 1989, when Turner & Hooch (referenced here) and K-9 went head-to-head in an Armageddon/Deep Impact style face-off. Now it’s been let off the leash by a director with more canines on his CV than Cruella de Vil has in the back of her van, as Raja Gosnell adds Show Dogs to a Crufts line-up’s worth of mongrels; Scooby Doo, Scooby Doo 2: Monster Island, and Beverley Hills Chihuahua (who makes a fleeting cameo).
There are two ways you can approach Show Dogs; the first is as a critic that’ll spend the entire movie sniffing as if they’ve trodden in dog muck on the way to the screening, rolling their eyes at the fact the script for Miss Congeniality has been rehashed with our four legged friends. The second is to take it for what it is; an undeniably bad film, but one that contains enough crazy moments to make you belly laugh at how ridiculous it all is. If you don’t believe that’s possible, then take Stanley Tucci’s Devil Wears Prada mentor in mutt form, advising our detective dog that “we can’t polish a turd, but we can roll it in glitter”, and tell me you don’t laugh.
In fact the most prescient lines for review purposes come from the mouths of the menagerie of animals. After an opening stake-out in which we’ve been introduced to a disinterested looking Rottweiler, who to be honest gives a stellar animal performance, despite being lumbered with dialogue such as “I made a promise to a scared looking panda”, we cut to some annoying pigeon sidekicks who reach straight into our discerning adult minds and say “I’m pretending to know what’s going on here”.
That sentence right there must also act as a caveat, because let’s be honest, this one is for the kids, and they should lap up the kind of jokes that feature a dog farting in a bowl of water. For the adults there’s a decent Lego Batman gag courtesy of the always watchable Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie), but in the wake of Coco, and even Peter Rabbit, children’s films should really try a lot harder than Show Dogs.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★★ / Movie: ★ ★
Matt Rodgers – Follow me on Twitter @mainstreammatt