I can count on one hand the movies I’ve walked out of over the years, and “Show Dogs” nearly proved to be too much for me to take. This wannabe buddy cop film about the unlikely pairing of FBI detective Frank (Will Arnett) and street smart Rottweiler Max (voice of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges) who go undercover at a dog show to stop animal traffickers is absolutely awful. The film’s listless 92 minutes nearly compelled me to hop out of my seat, race to the exit, and never look back, yet I endured this rubbish until the end.
This movie is so atrocious that I can’t think of one good thing to say about it. Not one. Even if I try as hard as I can, it’s still impossible. The only other film I’ve ever seen that even comes close to the unpleasantness portrayed here is the Russian import “Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon” which interestingly enough is another supposedly family friendly film about talking pups. It’s inexplicable that this is being marketed as entertainment suitable for small children.
I’m quite uneasy with a disturbing and inappropriate lengthy bit about the real-life process in a pedigree show where a judge grabs and examines a dog’s private parts. In the film, Max is reminded to “go to your happy place” and zone out while a stranger touches his genitals. The burly pup practices as Frank reaches down there and is encouraged not to bite, to “just relax and act natural.” Later he’s shown during the actual judging process as an old man (who looks like a possible pedophile, strike one against the casting department) comes over to grope away while “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO blasts on the soundtrack. While this is going on, the dog’s eyes glaze over as he has a “Dirty Dancing” inspired dream montage about rainbows, shooting stars, and fire hydrants — blocking out the unpleasantness of having a strange old man poke at his nether regions. It practically shows a child how to devise and engage a coping mechanism when they’re in a situation with non-consensual touching. It’s not exactly the greatest message to be sending to children, and it’s just plain irresponsible. The more I think about this scene (which is revoltingly played for laughs three times), the more nauseated I become.
Even worse is the carefree, nonchalant attitude that dog breeding is completely acceptable and desirable, an enticing world where everyone has a purebred at the end of their leash and nobody dares mention a shelter pet. Other ill-advised, stomach-churning moments include a panda cub ripped from his mother to be auctioned to the highest bidder and a poached tiger gleefully riding a zip line through downtown Las Vegas. I don’t demand a movie like this be realistic, but when two dogs got behind the controls of an airplane I’d had enough.
The CGI is dreadful and nonsensical, from the moving mouths plastered over real animal actors to moments of sheer hogwash like a dog cutting triple back flips through the air or memorizing a lock code and punching it in to escape his animal control cage. I’d like to think the human actors in this junk were also mere cartoons since all of them seem completely embarrassed to have shown up for nothing more than a pennies-on-the-dollar payday. Natasha Lyonne is the best thing about this movie, so let that sink in.
This movie is made by and for outright blockheads, the type of people who refuse to demand more out of their entertainment options. The direction by Raja Gosnell is dreadful and the screenplay (by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman) is oversimplified to a fault. The anemic characters are wholly unappealing and half of the furry canine stars serve no purpose. Among the only animals that are given something to do are three very unfunny pigeons, a trio of birds who provide moments of literal exposition. “I don’t understand what is happening” a pigeon says in one of the early scenes — while another explains it to him word for word. And there’s no way anyone in the audience didn’t understand what was happening: a cop chases a bad guy down the street. Seriously.
So grab the kiddos and head out to see this one, especially if little Joey has always wanted to see a grown man waxing a dog’s testicles. This is what passes for family entertainment today, folks.