Film Review: SHOW DOGS (USA 2018)

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Show Dogs Poster

Max, a macho, solitary Rottweiler police dog is ordered to go undercover as a primped show dog in a prestigious Dog Show, along with his human partner, to avert a disaster from happening.


Raja Gosnell


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. 



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Film Review: ANTIBIRTH (USA/Canada 2016) ***1/2

antibirth_movie_posterDirected by Danny Perez

Starring: Natasha Lyonne, Chloë Sevigny, Meg Tilly

Review by Gilbert Seah

As nasty pictures go, ANTIBIRTH is one hell of a nasty piece. Halfway throughout the film, the lead character, Lou (Natasha Lyonne) remarks: “I am not pregnant. I am infected!” But writer/director Danny Perez infuses an accurate stoner humour into the proceedings. Unlike films like SAW and HOSTEL, which are nasty beyond watchable, ANTIBIRTH is very watchable and entertaining in a nasty way. In the words of director Perez, “I wanted to show the other side of pregnancy besides the feel-good and the glow; i.e. the more gruesome aspects of pregnancy and what it does to the body.” He ties the film with UFO Youtube conspiracy theories, which does not always work. Needless to say, the film should be avoided by any woman in the expectancy period.

In a small Michigan town, hard-partying stoner Lou (Lyonne) awakens one morning and finds herself experiencing bizarre symptoms. Her friend, Sadie (Oscar nominee Chloë Sevigny from BOYS DON’T CRY) believes she is pregnant and not telling her about it, despite Lou’s claims that she has not had sex with anyone in nearly a year. A mysterious stranger, Lorna (Meg Tilly), however, believes Lou. As conspiracies and stories of bizarre kidnappings around town begin to spread, Lou’s visions and grip on reality become more distorted.

Perez wrote his film with lead actress Lyonne in mind. It shows! Lyonne is perfect for the part as the stoner do-not-want-to-be-mother. “I cannot be pregnant. It is not my style.” She says. Her character, Lou smokes from a bong with the mouthpiece so large that it fits her entire mouth. She survives on donuts and cigarettes. Meg Tilly, not seen for a while on screen returns in a role as a frumpy weirdo who sees flashes of light and visions, like someone switching on and off a TV channel.

Be warned that Perez is fond of including very gross scenes. One has Lou peeling off a scar tissue at the back of her neck before extracting one of her molars with her fingers, blood and all. But the best (grossest) scene has her using a knife to break open a huge blister on the sole of one foot, followed by all the blood and pus running out. She then wobbles around with a cane, limping around until she delivers. One can appreciate if not feel her pain during the pregnancy – or infection, if one wants to call it that.

The winter setting with the ice and snow as well as the dirty mud aids in the film’s gloomy atmosphere. Her trailer home looks even more dismal in the wintry setting.
The best scene? Meg Tilly’s face covered in blood smiling after delivery of the monster baby remarking: “Oh my goodness!”

ANTIBIRTH works as a horror film with major stoner attitude. One of the best horror films of the year! See it with caution!


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