Show Dogs

‘A team of crime fighters.’

And so half term begins. Teachers and students get a week long reprise during exam season, a week long pit stop before the last and longest leg of the marathon that is the school year. Parents need to come up with enough entertainment to fill the week. The cinema is a great bet. Sitting in front of the screen for 90 odd minutes on an adventure – what’s not to love?

This film.

Show Dogs is a cynical and money-grabbing manoeuvre of a movie that represents the worst side of Hollywood cinema. The equivalent of cinematic junk food; there’s nothing of nutritional value and you feel empty after consuming. The premise of an NYPDD (New York Police Department Dog, voiced by Ludacris) being forced to work with a straight-laced FBI agent (Will Arnett) and compete in a prestigious dog show to save smuggled baby panda sounds bad enough, The trailer looks bad enough. But the trailer is only 2 minutes. Times that by x45 to make up the film’s running time and you start to get a better idea of just how bad this film is.

Pitching it as Miss Congeniality with talking dogs is a huge disservice to the 2000 Sandra Bullock starring vehicle. That film had charm, wit, warmth, tenderness, excellent performances and a message. This film lacks all of those things and is instead a void in which you’re forced to watch people you admire clearly doing it for the money. Arnett completely phones it in; scarcely present in the scenes he’s in (which is pretty much all of them) it’s painful to watch. You find yourself recalling everything good he’s ever been in and find yourself constantly questioning just why he’s doing this film.

And Stanely Tucci. Why Stanley Tucci? WHHHHH? Even he, providing a very OTT French accent to Philippe, a French Papillon, cannot rescue things. And if Tucci can’t rescue a film, surely that’s an indicator of the level of mediocrity we’re dealing with. The voices of Alan Cumming and RuPaul also feature. They don’t help either.

If the film was simply bad it would be fine. We could have a collective agreement to never refer to the film again. Maybe we could have a memory wipe a la Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind or Men In Black. Except there’s one scene in the film that is so utterly tone-deaf and lacking in audience awareness that the film needs to be remembered so as to never be replicated. The sequence in question is when Max, the undercover dog, is being trained to not respond when having its genitals groped. Max is encouraged by multiple characters to go to a ‘zen place’ when being intimately touched by humans. Statements were released on behalf of the film saying that they were simply replicating the practice of actual dog shows and they were horrified by how the scenes had been misconstrued. Those scenes have since been cut from general release. How no-one involved saw those scenes being drafted, rehearsed, filmed, edited and said nothing is beyond comprehension.

Such are the film’s attempts at humor and demonstrative of the level we are looking at.

It’s painful to watch. Parents – please don’t inflict this film upon yourself or your progeny. Paddington 2 is on DVD. So is Coco. Please get either/both of those instead.

Show Dogs is in UK cinemas from Friday 25th May.

1 star

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