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Watching the first 15 minutes of a film’s opening can usually determine what can expected from the rest of the film. At the start of SHOW DOGS, Max (Ludacris ), a talking Rottweiler that works as a police dog mistakenly takes down an undercover cop while three talking pigeons explain what is gong on to each other and the audience as if the scene needs to be explained. The baddies have a British accent, of course and the camera tilts sideways for no apparent reason. The antics include the dog unimpressively tumbling around and dodging vehicles. Max bites the cop in the butt. This is a sequence that is neither funny or exciting or worthy of mention.
So, in this world where humans and sentient dogs co-exist, the macho but lonely Rottweiler police dog named Max has bungled his duty to save a kidnapped baby panda. Max promises the panda that he will return to save her. Max is eventually ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog at a prestigious dog show with his human partner Frank (Will Arnett), the one he bit on the butt earlier in the film.
An impressive cast of celebrities voice the canine characters. RuPaul voices Persephone,
Gabriel Iglesias, Sprinkles, a Pug, Shaquille O’Neal, Karma, Stanley Tucci, Philippe and Alan Cumming, Dante. One wonders the decision for Tucci doing a French accent, thus making his voice hardly recognizable for the Belgium dog, Philippe.
There are no shortage of jokes in the film. The trouble is that they are only mildly funny at best. The best example is the fast sloth joke, humorous a little, but laugh-out loud, it is not. To illustrate how good the jokes are, I did not laugh once during the entire comedy! The film is also not short of ass-hole and gross jokes. It is easy to calculate the jokes hit/miss ratio for this film. Zero!
The film contains many show dogs that are perfectly groomed that are great to look at. Still, this is insufficient to lift the film out of the doldrums. Max, the Rottweiler looks sloppy compared to all the other dogs, kind of dirty looking an always drooling. It does not help that the script insists on having a romantic angle between Max and Daisy (Jordin Sparks), a Border Collie. To make matters worse, there is also a hint of romance between Frank and another dog handler, Mattie (Natasha Lyonne).
The script by Max Botkin and Marc Hyman, at best makes reference to better dog films like TURNER AND HOOCH. At one point, Max calls his partner, Hooch. Again, a little humorous at best!
2018 has so far seen the best and worst dog films of the decade. Wes Andersons’ ISLE OF DOGS is so far the best dog film this year. SHOW DOGS, lands on the other end of the spectrum.