The Queen’s Corgi, 2019.
Directed by Ben Stassen and Vincent Kesteloot.
Featuring the voice talents of Jack Whitehall, Sheridan Smith, Ray Winstone, Julie Walters, Tom Courtenay, Matt Lucas, Jon Culshaw and Debra Stephenson.
After a misunderstanding involving the President of the United States, the Queen’s favourite corgi escapes from the palace and finds it harder to get home than he expects.
There are a lot of odd things about The Queen’s Corgi. This is a film featuring caricatured versions of Donald Trump and the Queen, as well as talking dogs and an underground puppy fighting club. But perhaps the strangest thing about it is that it isn’t British. Despite being steeped in English iconography, it’s made by Belgian studio nWave Pictures, who also make the A Turtle’s Tale franchise. No, me neither.
As the title suggests, the focus of the story is the adorable corgi Rex (Jack Whitehall), who is the Queen’s (Julie Walters) favourite pet and even sleeps in her bed, much to the chagrin of Prince Philip (Tom Courtenay). Rex’s charmed life is hit by controversy, though, when he inadvertently takes a bite out of the trousers of visiting President Donald Trump (Jon Culshaw, reprising his Dead Ringers impression of POTUS) and is sent, literally and metaphorically, to the doghouse. Despondent, Rex escapes the palace and ends up in a home for abandoned canines, where his love for Wanda (Sheridan Smith) puts him on a crash course with violent pit bull Tyson (Ray Winstone).
This would be quite an ordinary, cutesy, animal-focused animation were it not for the caricatured portrayal of real public figures. This presents almost unlimited opportunities for comedy, but also forces the film to tread carefully in order to avoid frightening the horses, so to speak. There are a couple of softball Trump jokes – a teapot is replaced in the palace by a bottle of ‘Covfefe Classic’ cola – and Julie Walters is delightfully amiable as Queen Liz, but none of the comedic potential of that premise is mined in any way.
Indeed, The Queen’s Corgi isn’t really for anyone. On the one hand, the basic story beats and the level of scatological comedy – there’s a lot of weeing on stuff – skews even younger than the standard animated movie but, on the other, there are extended riffs on Rocky and, especially, Fight Club that will entirely fly over the heads of the kiddie crowd. Throw in a handful of pretty tasteless gags about the very real sexual assault allegations against Trump, as well as an incredibly sexually aggressive female corgi, and there’s something very bizarre going on with the targeting of this fatally misjudged film. By the time a chihuahua turns up with a broad Mexican accent, the audience’s consistently rolling eyes could be harnessed power the cinema screen.
Everything that happens here seems to work as a lame excuse to fill the gaps between the slapstick set pieces, which are delivered with absolutely no imagination or originality. This is a movie that’s just going through the motions and counting the money, with utter contempt for a young audience that it has decided is uncritical and unintelligent, with a couple of cute dogs more than enough to satisfy them. Most children want more from a film than that.
Low effort feels very much the order of the day here, with the voice performances bearing all of the hallmarks of performers dispassionately reading words until their cheques arrive. The animation, too, is cheap-looking and decidedly naff in comparison to the big beasts of Pixar and DreamWorks, as well as lacking the inherent charm of the obviously love-infused worlds of Laika or Aardman. Winstone and Little Britain star Matt Lucas are handed bland villain roles that are far nastier than they need to be, while no one ever skewers the intensely toxic bravado of Whitehall’s peacocking posh dog.
The Queen’s Corgi is a film that has teleported from a world in which animated movies are of a much lower standard than they typically are today. Films for kids are for the most part clever, innovative and devastatingly original. This one, though, is far more in the ballpark of The Emoji Movie than any of the instant classics arising from the House of Mouse. You’ll be begging to go back to those Minions DVDs by the end.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Tom Beasley is a freelance film journalist and wrestling fan. Follow him on Twitter via @TomJBeasley for movie opinions, wrestling stuff and puns.