Show Dogs

 

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A childish romp for the very young, this canine comedy (filmed in Wales and Las Vegas) is bit of a dog.

 

Show Dogs

Method mutt: Max prepares for his showdown 

 

It is the silly season. As the studios parade their big-budget sequels (and offshoots), films like Show Dogs are slipped into cinemas to mop up any stray viewers. And, in the aftermath of Cannes, these are tragic times. Show Dogs is a CGI/live-action romp featuring a Rottweiler called Max (voiced by the rapper-cum-actor Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges). Max is also a police dog, a proud foot soldier of the NYPD, who ends up in Vegas on the scent of an animal-smuggling racket. To infiltrate the Ukrainian ring of criminals (and one English thug, natch), Max poses as a competitor at the world-famous Canini Invitational dog show. It’s a little beneath his dignity, but it’s all part of the job…

 

Show Dogs is not a sophisticated comedy. There is a pervading sense of silliness embraced by the supporting players, a ribald sense of humour perpetrated by the canine cast (who doesn’t love a flatulent Rottweiler?) and a clichéd music score to set your teeth – your canines? – on edge. Plus there are plenty of puns; oh, the puns…

 

To be honest, it’s bit of a dog’s dinner, but it would take a churlish critic to whip a sick dog. One should make allowances, particularly for a film aimed at the very young. It is directed by Raja Gosnell, who is in his element here, having brought us the low art of Scooby-Doo, Scooby-Doo 2, The Smurfs, The Smurfs 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, among other gems. Pity poor Will Arnett, then, who is given the thankless task of playing the straight man opposite Max,  along with former child star Natasha Lyonne as the damsel-in-distress. Even the CGI is decidedly below par, with a tiger an unconvincing creation compared to his Bengal cousin devised for a certain Ang Lee film. Still, the big cat gets the last laugh when, enjoying one of the attractions of Vegas, he cries out, “this is the life of Pi!” At least Show Dogs knows its limitations.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Will Arnett, Natasha Lyonne, Omar Chaparro, Oliver Tompsett, Andy Beckwith, Ronni Ancona, Colin Stinton, Kerry Shale, Simon Lipkin, and the voices of Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges, Jordin Sparks, RuPaul, Gabriel Iglesias, Shaquille O'Neal, Alan Cumming, Stanley Tucci, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, Kate Micucci.

 

Dir Raja Gosnell, Pro Deepak Nayar and Philip von Alvensleben, Screenplay Max Botkin and Marc Hyman, Ph David Mackie, Pro Des Amanda McArthur, Ed David Freeman and Sabrina Plisco, Music Heitor Pereira, Costumes Claire Finlay.

 

Riverstone Pictures/Alive Entertainment-Entertainment One

92 mins. UK/USA. 2018. Rel: 25 May 2018. Cert. PG.