Raja Gosnell (director)
25 May 2018 (released)
24 May 2018
Nobody is really expecting true originality from anyone, from anything. Almost everything is already out there, feeding or being fed off. Try hard enough and you’ll find a link, an influence or a reference in something to something else.
Show Dogs is a lame project assembled from various sources – which the makers acknowledge in a way that suggests that they have over-thought little details, while eschewing the basics which is to entertain, and vital for a comedy, make the audience laugh.
If the viewer is inclined you could spend the length of this wretched film picking out the references and influences. However, that assumes that the film’s viewers can actually maintain the required level of interest as after five minutes it’s already looking tired. Even the junior target audience are going to struggle with this, let alone the adults.
It opens when talking police dog Max (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) is on a mission to save a baby panda, which is cocked up between him and Frank (Will Arnett). This sets of the main plot which is that Max and his partner/owner/pet, Frank have to go undercover at a prestigious dog show where the panda is likely to be sold to the usual evil animal traders.
The two obviously don’t get along – they don’t talk to each other but when the dogs bark we hear them talking, Frank and others sort of gets the gist. Anyway, off they go and meet up with dog show expert and groomer Mattie (Natasha Lyonne) who has the task of getting Max and Frank ready for the show, as they are from ‘the street’ and don’t have the necessary poise to get much further than the initial walk about.
This section includes a scene when Max’s nuts are groped to train him for one of the judging sessions. And it is really very unpleasant on so many levels, and it has resulted in formal apologies and its excision from the US version of the film.
At the show they meet up with a collection of misfits and circuit regulars Phillipe a pampered dandy voiced by Stanley Tucci, Sprinkles a pug (Gabriel Iglesias), and Karma (Shaquille O’Neal) a dog that spouts what could be chemically induced words of wisdom. It’s all very weird.
The blame for all this lies squarely with director Raja Gosnell and writers Max Botkin and Marc Hyman et al (there are others involved with this script). From the conception, through poor script and CGI and cliched set ups it reeks of a stale and lazy committee construct. Add in a non-stop bombastic soundtrack, shameless ad placement for an American eatery and this is cinema very closet to its worst.